Driving tips for Ireland 03
USEFUL TIPS (cont.)
- Roundabouts: In theory these operate like most European systems where you give way to traffic on the roundabout and have right-of-way once on the roundabout. Beware of lane discipline when using two-lane roundabouts - you sometimes find drivers in the right-hand lane suddenly realising they need to exit the roundabout and driving across lanes. Similarily, if you are exiting the third turn of a roundabout [that is, going three-quarters aaround the roundabout], it is normal Irish practice to enter on the the right-hand lane, not the left-hand lane. Otherwise you might be looking for your car insurance documents sooner than you think!
- Additional tips: I am indebted to Nancy Hoban for writing the following additional notes about roundabouts. I forget that they are not common in N. America and pose problems to visiting drivers - many thanks!
- First, watch for the sign with the 3 arrows showing that a roundabout is ahead. Then the driver is ready for the graphic with the towns and/or road numbers. Note the position of the desired road...
- IF your road is the first left, then get in the left lane with the left turn signal on, and proceed into the roundabout when it is clear and safe.
- IF your road is the second left (or what would seem like going straight across to us North Americans), then approach the roundabout in the right hand lane, with NO turn signal, move into the inside lane of the roundabout when it is clear and safe and after passing the first exit, put on the left turn signal and move into the outside lane and exit.
- IF your road is the third left (or what would be going 3/4 way around) approach the roundabout from the right hand lane BUT with the RIGHT turn signal on, move into the inner lane when it is clear and safe, pass the first and 2nd exits, change the turn signal to a LEFT turn, move to the outer lane and exit.
- Take deep breath and mutter "well done."
- With your newer improved national roadways, people might be glad to know about the 3-line sign, then 2, then 1 before the major exits. Those were also new to me, this past trip. There have been great changes since my first trip to Ireland about 15 years ago. I have driven on each trip and loved the adventure. Over here in the States we tend to have highway numbers and people think they will go along looking for numbered roads. Not always so!
- I always try to memorize the names of each town along the road since town names maybe be signposted rather than a road number. I had American friends (their first trip out of the states) with me for part of this trip, and told them they had to be "navigators" while I was driving. They spent so much time trying to tell me to take road number such and such going through a town when we did better watching for the next town. We did realize that there are small square or rectangular road number signs on the telephone poles. They don't look like what they are, if that makes any sense. I googled Irish road signs and found all kind of humorous links. Nancy Hoban
- Hard shoulder: the name given to the strip of road on single carriageways (ie, one-lane each way) roads. Technically, these bits of extra road are for parking/stopping but In practice, this bit of extra space tends to be used for overtaking - if a fast-approaching car comes up to your rear bumper/fender, then you can flick left into the hard shoulder and let them by if you wish (remember, there is no legal obligation for you to do so)! The trouble with the hard shoulder is (a) it can be quite dirty and you can get punctures doing this a lot (b) pedestrians and cyclists often use it, so you need to check in advance before you decide on such a manoeuvre (c) they often end without warning!
- Traffic lights: red always means stop, even if the person behind you honks at you (they do this in Cork sometimes). In multilane roads, check that the light applies to you - it may only be a directional green (ie, green arrow) whereas your lane might have a red.
- Remember that it can take a lot longer than you think to drive in Ireland due to traffic congestion in cities and the nature and quality of other roads. Leave plenty of time for your journey and enjoy the scenery!
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