March 20, 2023
Roundabouts in Spain are a constant cause of confusion for many drivers, of all nationalities, including those native to the country, and cause a great deal of concern for drivers unaware that in Spain negotiating a roundabout is very different to that of other countries.
Whereas we have detailed extensively the correct way to drive on roundabouts in Spain, there is further confusion when roundabouts look different, and they are, when we come across the phenomenon known as the “split roundabout”, known in Spanish as “glorietas partidas”.
What is a split roundabout?
The split roundabout is an intersection where there is a circular ring with a one-way flow of traffic that channels all incoming and outgoing movements between the main road and the secondary road, but maintains the continuity of the main road, prioritising continuation on the main road on the rest of the movements. We can reach the split roundabout from two different positions and this position will define how we must do the different manoeuvres.
What does the DGT say about split roundabouts?
Drivers are very used to conventional roundabouts, the famous roundabouts, in which traffic flows in a circular way and in which the passage of the different roads that reach the roundabout is regulated. In this case, normal roundabouts, there is no doubt about the direction of traffic, nor the priority of vehicles.
Split roundabouts are a type of intersection in which two opposing sections are connected by a central island. In this way, and unlike what happens in a conventional roundabout, the main traffic flow passes from one side to the other crossing the islet, and not going around it, which is effectively what we should do to change direction - if allowed - or join the road that crosses.
In order to help us understand split roundabouts, the DGT has provided a useful graphic illustration.
Before we look at the graphic and explain what is going on, it is important to remember that priority is firstly dictated by horizontal or vertical traffic signs as on a normal road, and so, whatever the road signs say, is what we follow in the first instance. These, for example, could be signs saying stop, or give way, or traffic lights.
Understanding that there are no doubts about how we should proceed if we cross a split roundabout, the graph presented to us by the General Directorate of Traffic shows us perfectly how we have to circulate in a split roundabout if we want to change direction, of course, always complying with the right of way that will be regulated with vertical and horizontal signs, Stop, or Give Way, and traffic lights.
Now, let us look at the image provided by the DGT, the text written by the DGT explains that unlike roundabouts, in which the direction of movement is obligatory and circular, split roundabouts have two sections, generally opposite, which are directly connected through a central island, so that traffic passes from one side to the other and does not surround it. If it does not have signage, the general rule of priority on the right applies. This is how you should turn left:
Starting with the blue car. We can see that if the blue car were to continue in the direction of travel, it would simply continue in a straight line, through the direct road cutting through the junction.
However, we are talking about turning left, and the arrows show us the path that the blue car should take at the split roundabout, and therefore has to follow the circular path, moving first to the right off the main carriageway flow, and following the route through that circle around the junction.
So far, the blue car makes more sense as it is generally following the route we would expect at a conventional roundabout.
Now we have the red car. The first point we have to make is that for the red car to turn left, as indicated by the arrows, it is free to choose the route onto the main carriageway, either turning left and following the main flow, or continuing in the circular path until reaching the main carriageway by a longer route. Again, this is entirely a choice, which can be dictated by things like the free path controlled by traffic lights, for example.
Remember though, as per normal roundabouts, the rule still applies if you follow the circular flow that you must always exit a roundabout from the right-hand lane, unless signs or signals say otherwise.
One important point to note is that when the red car has entered the junction, the blue car would normally have priority, and you must therefore give way to the blue car.
Remember, in all circumstances and, above all, at intersections such as split roundabouts, the most important thing and the best advice that we must follow is to be very attentive to the signage. Because if the roundabout has been signposted correctly, the signposting should be enough for us to fully understand how we have to proceed in each case and, above all, who has priority, to avoid risky situations.
How to drive on split roundabouts
There are two manners of approach when we reach a split roundabout, the first is if we are on the main road, the priority route, which flows through the junction as if it is a normal road, and the other if we are approaching from the secondary route.
Approaching a split roundabout on the main carriageway:
When we arrive at a split roundabout on the main carriageway, if we wish to continue along that carriageway, we simply continue, abiding by any traffic signs at the junction.
We will find the route which looks similar to a roundabout, on our left and right. Using the road to our left is prohibited, as the circular flow is always in an anticlockwise direction.
Turning or changes of direction:
Turn to the right.
It is the simplest manoeuvre, we must always start from the right lane on the main carriageway and stick to it to make the entire turn to the right, putting on the right turn signal with enough time to warn of the manoeuvre.
Indirect turn to the left.
A left turn is completely different. We will have to start by exiting to the right, beginning our journey now as if we are following the course of a conventional roundabout, signalling first to the right that we intend to leave the main carriageway, and once we are turning, we will change the indicator to the left, placing ourselves in the right-hand lane, considering that the first lane is the one that is closest to the island. We then indicate to the right to signal we are about to leave the roundabout.
We must be observant of the road signs and give way to traffic on the main carriageway.
Approaching the split roundabout on the secondary road:
When we approach the split roundabout in such a way that we find half of the island just in front of us and the other half of the island just on the opposite side of the road. In other words, there is no direct route through the centre. We, therefore, mostly, adopt the practices of a conventional roundabout.
Turns or change of direction:
Turning right, again, is the simplest manoeuvre, we must always start from the right lane and stick to it to make the entire turn to the right, keeping the right turn signal throughout the turn.
We have a choice of the route to take through the split roundabout to turn left. We can either turn left directly onto the main carriageway, or follow the flow of the road in a circular manner in the same way we would on a conventional roundabout. We indicate that we intend to turn left. In the latter manoeuvre, we must always exit from the right-hand lane, unless signs tell us otherwise, and signal our intention.
Remember, once again, at all times, to watch carefully for road signs and signals, and respect the rules of priority.
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