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Home / Blog / Roundabouts, an introduction using MSPSL

17 / 05 / 24

Roundabouts, an introduction using MSPSL

Roundabouts are a fundamental feature of the UK’s road infrastructure, designed to keep traffic moving smoothly and safely. Your National Intensive ADI will ensure you are at a high standard by the time you sit your practical driving test with us. Originating in the early 20th century, they have evolved into various forms to accommodate different traffic volumes and situations. In this blog, we will delve into the different types of roundabouts you’ll encounter on UK roads, including mini-roundabouts, standard residential roundabouts, and gyratory/spiral roundabouts. We’ll also explain how to approach a roundabout using the MSPSL routine and clarify who has the right of way in these intersections.

Types of Roundabouts


Mini-roundabouts are small, flat roundabouts usually found in residential areas or places where space is limited. They are identified by a painted circle in the middle of the junction, often accompanied by a blue, circular sign with white arrows. Mini-roundabouts help manage traffic flow at intersections without the need for larger, more complex infrastructure.

Standard Residential Roundabouts

Standard residential roundabouts are larger than mini-roundabouts and feature a raised central island, often landscaped with grass, plants, or even sculptures. These roundabouts are common in suburban areas and are designed to handle moderate traffic levels. They typically have one or two lanes, making them simple to navigate while effectively managing traffic flow.

Gyratory Roundabouts / Spiral Roundabouts

Gyratory roundabouts, also known as spiral roundabouts, are more complex and usually found in urban areas with heavy traffic. These roundabouts have multiple lanes and a spiral pattern that guides drivers to their exits in a smoother, more controlled manner. The lane markings on gyratory roundabouts are crucial, as they help direct traffic flow and prevent confusion among drivers.

Approaching a Roundabout Using the MSPSL Routine

The MSPSL routine (Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look) is a systematic approach to safely navigating roundabouts:

  1. Mirror: Check your mirrors to assess the traffic behind you.
  2. Signal: Indicate your intended direction. Signal left if you’re taking the first exit, right if you’re taking any exit beyond the halfway point, and do not signal if you are going straight on until you pass the exit before the one you plan to take.
  3. Position: Position your vehicle appropriately. For left and straight-on exits, stay in the left lane. For right exits, move to the right lane if safe and clear.
  4. Speed: Adjust your speed to approach the roundabout smoothly, slowing down to give yourself time to observe and react.
  5. Look: Look for traffic on the roundabout, giving way to traffic from your right. Ensure the roundabout is clear or that there is a sufficient gap before you proceed.

Who to Give Way To

At roundabouts, you must give way to traffic coming from your right. This rule ensures that vehicles already on the roundabout can continue moving without having to stop for new entrants. Be vigilant and ready to stop if necessary, but once you see a clear gap, proceed confidently to maintain the flow of traffic.

Understanding the types of roundabouts and how to navigate them using the MSPSL routine will help you drive more safely and efficiently on UK roads. Whether you’re dealing with a mini-roundabout in a quiet neighborhood or a busy gyratory roundabout in a bustling city, following these guidelines with your National Intensive driving instructor will ensure a smooth journey for everyone.


Image credit: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72662


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Roundabouts, an introduction using MSPSL


17 / 05 / 24

A grass field with a few trees, bushes and a lampost.