Meanwhile in a country far far away*. Driving school, Lesson 6. Roundabouts, rond punt, ronde-point

As imagined in a local driving school.



You have done really well in our previous lessons so today we are going to have a special lesson.  Today we are going to learn roundabouts.

Now there are two rules to roundabouts that you must never forget.

Rule one. There are no rules. In fact it is important that you adapt your behaviour to the circumstances so that in all situations you are able to do just what you want without other people messing up your driving rhythm.


That’s not a rule! Give me a proper rule that I can follow. What’s rule 2?


All driving at roundabouts is subject to the Laws for state secrecy. Under no circumstances should any citizen ever allow any other driver to know where you are going next.

Circulate rapidly always giving the impression that you are going to take the next exit, then just when they think you have made your choice carry on round another one or two exits just to be on the safe side.


What about the indicators?


NO. NO. NO. Indicators are used by foreigners only. Let anyone see you using an indicator and they will think you are English, then you will get no respect at all. It’s like the roundabouts with more than one lane. Don’t get in the habit of choosing the same one each time for each manoeuvre because people will expect us all to do the same and then where would we be, Germany?


Any special instructions if I see pedestrians and cyclists?


ronde point

Sigh. You are not following this are you? The crossings round the roundabout are part of a statistical study. Those people waiting are not really trying to cross, they are sampling the behaviour of motorists to see how many stop. Apparently the samples to date show that it is entirely random. Which is as it should be, or people like me wouldn’t be doing our jobs.

Although you do need to be careful if you ever drive North, the Dutch keep stopping for them and it messes everything up, the cyclists get a bit pushy and expect to be taken seriously. That needs stamping out.



I think so. Can we go and practice now?


Yes I think we should. If this goes well next time we can book you in for our special offer lesson. It lasts five hours and it is called “finding a parking space in Brussels”.

*May be Belgium

Ronde Point Albert Mayne

*Substitute Wallonia/Flanders at your peril.

PS: We have our own roundabout here – but that is another story!

8 thoughts on “Meanwhile in a country far far away*. Driving school, Lesson 6. Roundabouts, rond punt, ronde-point

  1. You have nailed roundabout mentality perfectly. We don’t have many around here (Michigan, USA). But, shortly after one was put into our downtown area, my husband and I were on our bikes and saw another cyclist ride thru the roundabout BACKWARDS, talking on his cell. As if everyone wasn’t confused enough already!


    • Strangely I thought I was mainly talking about my new home in Belgium, but it looks like I have struck a chord with other people!


  2. The most ridiculous driving convention seen in many parts of the Continent is the right-before-left rule. It is dangerous for most road users. Approaching a junction from the right, the presence of an yield or stop sign is an exception so motorists presume that they have the right of way and frequently so not even see the yield sign even when there is one. Many roundabouts are actually not that obvious that they are roundabouts, and the presumption of the right of way for those entering the roundabout combined with not seeing the yield sign and not realising that one is entering a roundabout result in very dangerous situations. Throw into this mix some combative driving habits, and you end up with really stupid results.


    • Funnily enough I have adapted better to the give way to the right rule, although not without some near misses. Nobody has any idea what to do in Brussels (40% ex-pat/immigrant origin population) so actually most people wait for eye contact and that makes driving and cycling safer.I understood that it was originally a French convention but they have dropped it, but of course Belgium has hung on to it, which is a bit bonkers.

      I think the roundabout problem is because it is considered a relatively new feature and many drivers have just never been taught the conventions we learned years ago.

      Where I totally agree with you is the combination of drivers who have no idea how to drive roundabouts, poor layouts where nobody is quite sure whether it is a roundabout or a cross roads combined with “give way to the right” is a complete mess. And very Belgian 🙂


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