traffic circle rules

Home Forums Open Discussion traffic circle rules

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #592567


    I would like for my fellow West Seattle peeps to follow the rules of the road regarding traffic circles in this instance — it is tiring to get cut off or almost rammed by people who do not understand how to traverse a traffic circle — it is simple — get to traffic circle, proceed always to the right (even if you want to turn left, don’t do it!!!) — always get going counter clockwise around the circle, get off the circle at whatever street you are looking for — you should be turning to your RIGHT, always, when going into and out of a traffic circle.

    from Seattle PI:


    Judd Calloway says he’s lived in Seattle for many years and has always been confused about the proper way to make a left-hand turn at traffic circles.

    “A few years ago, in an effort to figure this out, I went online (I believe at the City of Seattle’s website) and found that one could make a left-hand turn before the traffic circle without going around it as long as it was safe to do so; otherwise one would have to go around it.

    “Now I am reading that this is NOT true and that one must go clockwise around the traffic circle. Did this change, and also why would someone not be able to turn before it? It seems like it would help expedite the flow of cars,” he writes.


    Brian Kemper, interim city traffic engineer with the Seattle Department of Transportation, says state law doesn’t distinguish between a “neighborhood traffic circle and a larger roundabout.”

    “Consequently, a driver must go counterclockwise around a traffic circle when turning left or stay to the right of the circle when proceeding straight through the intersection. However, we recognize that there are some instances when drivers turning left may need to turn in front of the circle, for example, when they are operating a large truck. Turning left in front of a traffic circle can be safely performed if the driver exercises reasonable care and yields to pedestrians, bicyclists, and oncoming traffic,” Kemper says.



    Thank you! I nearly got hit head on the other day by someone who decided to turn left into the traffic circle. :)



    I too have almost been hit a couple of times by people going the wrong way around a traffic circle. Unfortunately I have some doubts as to how many people will actually see this information.



    look at the history of the “ask an officer” section of the times/pi this comes up about once every 4 months, and the interpretation of the law is different every time. Also, this answer is hardly definitive because the last sentence is totally subjective.



    Dufus, can you please provide the direct link? We appreciate the helpfulness but that much of an excerpt is a copyright violation … If you are excerpting more than a line or two, PLEASE provide the link, not cut-and-paste text. We take copyright really seriously around here. You can just put the link (as long as it’s preceded by the full http) right into a post and it will work.



    We had discussed this a year ago in another thread. I contacted SDOT at the time to find out the rules about it, and this was the emailed reply I received at the time and posted a year ago:

    “Thank you for your inquiry regarding the rules pertaining to left turns at neighborhood traffic circles. You are correct that the Washington Driver Guide (and the state law that the guide implements), does not distinguish between

    neighborhood traffic circles and roundabouts.

    Practically speaking, a left turn can be performed safely in front of a neighborhood traffic circle since they are typically located on low traffic volume and low speed residential streets, unlike roundabouts, which control traffic flow on higher volume arterials.

    However, under a strict interpretation of the Driver Guide and state laws, this is not a legal left turn, and similarly to roundabouts, a driver turning left at a neighborhood traffic circle should proceed counterclockwise around the traffic circle, rather than turning left in front of the circle.

    We recognize that this issue causes confusion, and the City will be working this year toward clarifying the distinction between neighborhood traffic circles and roundabouts in state law, addressing the issue in the Seattle Municipal

    Code, or both.”

    So I read this as yeah, you’ll probably get away with it because we usually ignore it, but it’s technically not legal to make the short left and you COULD get a ticket for it if somebody is bored and wants to write a ticket.



    Not to mention the people who take their traffic circles seriously and add so many high bushes, trees and other foliage that you can’t see what is coming either direction….the only safe way to go on those is right!

    I have many circles in my neighborhood and it seems like most people are in a hurry and don’t go around. The one at 38th/Belvidere and Andover is crazy because there are 5 streets that come up to it and since it is at the bottom of a hill, you never know how exciting it will be!



    When I moved here 11 years ago and took my driving test, it was clearly legal to make a left hand turn in front of a traffic circle and I have done so since. I drive a truck for business purposes and making the round-a-bout on a left hand turn is problematic on some streets.

    I will continue to make left hand turns in front of traffic circles until I’m told that it’s no longer permissible (despite the post #6). Go ahead and beep at me, flip me off, like you all usually do. I don’t really care. I’m considerate to oncoming traffic and let them through when possible before I make my left hand turn, but to those idiots that speed up when they see me turning just so you can beep your horn at me – well you know what you can do with the horn! In the end run, it’s supposed to be treated like a four way stop and if I’m there first, then some consideration should be given the other way as well.



    The real problem in Seattle is, the urge to pile on traffic calming devices.

    A round about, on 4 streets so narrow only one car can pass at a time is what my neighborhood ended up with. Since the stop signs were removed, it is legal to park right up to the intersection.

    All I need is a speed bump to make it unusable.



    I’ve noticed that around West Seattle too Ken. On Capital Hill, any intersection that had a traffic circle would have no parking signage within 15-20 feet of the circle to at least allow for decent maneuvering. I’m always amazed that people would park their cars so close to one when it seems likely they’d get hit. Anyhoo, you should email SDOT to see if they’ll put up some signs like they do in other neighborhoods. Can’t hurt to try!

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.