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Roundabout mystery solved

There seems to be a high degree of confusion and angst about the recently completed roundabout at the intersection of Concord and Northshore Roads. Despite pleas from the community for clarification as to how to best deal with this oddity, all local media outlets and information disseminators have decided to wait for drivers to sort it out for themselves. Of course we all know that the original idea was put forth by a conspiracy of body shops that for some reason begin to salivate uncontrollably at the mention of the term “roundabout.”

As I travel through that intersection frequently I have a keen interest in everyone going by the same rules. I am stepping into the void and listing Jim’s Rules for dealing with Farragut’s very own traffic calming device.

To wit:

The vehicle actually in the circle has the right-of-way. Period, the end. As you slowly approach the circle carefully look to your left. If there is no vehicle in the circle you may enter; and now you have the right of way until you exit the circle.

As you slowly approach the circle and carefully look to your left and there is a vehicle already in the circle you must wait for that vehicle(s) to clear before you enter the circle. Period, the end. Once there is an opening in traffic – you may enter the circle.

(By the way, there is maximum of three times around and then you forfeit your right of way, in addition to being too dizzy to continue any further). NOTE: As a courtesy to your fellow drivers, and so you don’t get flipped off, you might want to engage your right turn signal before you intend to exit the circle.

There is one exception: As you travel west on Northshore, (toward Loudon County) and want to go North on Concord Road, (toward Farragut) there is a separate turn lane and you don’t actually enter the circle. So who does what to whom in this case ? The vehicles coming out of the circle have the right of way and the right-turners have to yield. I know this part can be difficult for right turners, but if you get temporarily confused there is a giant, red sign that says “Yield” to help you remember.

There are also three types of drivers that may be encountered and dealt with to successfully negotiate the circle:

• The cowboy syndrome. Usually identified by pick-ups trucks with drivers wearing sleeveless T-shirts and baseball caps that say “CAT.” Sometimes hauling a cement mixer in the back of the truck. They don’t really understand what right-of-way means and find a traffic circle just a minor inconvenience.

• The ego trip. Usually a BMW or possibly an Infinity. They have a cell phone in one ear, an I-Pod in the other while they a punching buttons on their state-of-the-art GPS. They just naturally assume they “own” the right of way, every time, in all situations because, well … because they are them and you aren’t.

• The denizens. These drivers have been driving Northshore for 30 or 40 years and don’t see any reason why they should start yielding the right of way now. Instead of driving around the circle they choose to drive over the curb and keep pretty much a straight line. They are easily identified as they reek of Buicks and silver hair.

The circle did not create these three types of drivers — they were there all the time. The circle just makes them more visible. They exist everywhere, in all intersections, all over the country and are not limited to Concord — Northshore. You just need to be aware they exist and deal with them as best you can.

These are the ground-rules as to who has the right of way. It’s actually pretty simple. But please remember the admonition in your driver’s training handbook: having the right of way is no excuse for having an accident.

Jim Holladay



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