My little sister is almost 17 and will soon be taking the road test to get her license. I’ve taken her out driving a few times and I am proud to say that she actually does really well with it. She’s wicked patient and asks all the right questions. The only problem is that I feel like I don’t have all the answers, which is a little worrisome since I’ve been driving for over a decade.

One of the latest questions concerned a rotary: What is the difference between a rotary and a roundabout? Excuse me, what? I didn’t even know there was a difference and honestly thought that those terms were interchangeable.

Turns out that while roundabouts are similar to rotaries, they’re actually smaller in general according to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles driver's manual. “Most roundabouts have yield lines on the pavement and crosswalks for pedestrians. Roundabouts are generally on busy streets and their small size requires vehicles to reduce speed to 25 mph or less. Big rotaries are designed to handle traffic traveling at up to 40 mph.”

Ok, so I’m learning something new too. Take a look at all the instructions from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles driver's manual and let us know if you follow all the rules exactly.

  1. Traffic travels counter-clockwise in a rotary.
  2. Use your turn signals in the same way as any other intersection. Travel through the rotary and, when you are ready to exit, use your right turn signal.
  3. If the rotary has a single lane, you must enter from the right lane of the road you are coming from. You must exit onto the right lane of the road you intend to travel on.
  4. If the rotary has multiple lanes, look for signs to help you choose the proper lane.
  5. If there are no signs, you should do the following: For a quarter-turn, or to continue straight ahead, enter the rotary from the right lane. Stay in that lane, and exit onto the right lane. For a three-quarter-turn or a U-turn, enter the rotary from the left lane. Travel through the middle or inner lane. Exit onto the right lane.

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