Everything You Need to Know About Roundabouts

Many states and communities are using roundabouts as safer, more efficient alternatives to intersections with stop signs or signals. A roundabout is a low-speed intersection in which traffic flows continuously around a circular central island. Studies show that roundabouts significantly reduce crashes and crash related injuries, as well as decrease traffic congestion. But they can be confusing to a novice. These tips will help you to more easily navigate your next roundabout.

Slow down
When approaching a roundabout, slow down and get your bearings. Know where you want to exit the roundabout before you enter. Watch for any warning signs and obey the posted speed limit. Roundabouts ease traffic congestion because drivers are not required to come to a complete stop. However, drivers entering the roundabout must yield the right of way to those already in the circle.

Choose your lane
Some roundabouts contain only a single lane, while busier ones may have two or more lanes. Look for signs or road markings indicating which lane you should be in. In a two-lane roundabout, use the right lane if you'll be exiting the roundabout to the right or continuing straight through. Use the left lane if you'll be exiting to the left, driving straight through, or making a U-turn. Take extra care when changing lanes in a roundabout.

Yield before entering
Traffic flows counterclockwise in a roundabout. So regardless of where you enter the intersection, traffic should be approaching from your left. Remember to yield the right of way and then enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap. If there is no approaching traffic, you are not required to stop before entering.

Keep moving
Once you're in the roundabout, stop only to avoid a collision and be sure to use your turn signals to let other drivers know when you're exiting to the right or left.

Take care
Keep an eye out for pedestrians and bicyclists navigating the intersection. And take greater care when approaching a roundabout in the winter. Accumulations of snow and ice make the center island harder to see and the circular path trickier to travel.

Information provided by State Farm Insurance.


Worst-Case Winter Driving Survival

Winter driving conditions can turn treacherous in an instant. Snow, ice, poor visibility and extreme cold all threaten to disable your vehicle or make roads impassable. Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. It's important to be prepared for such a situation. Your life could depend on it.

What to have in your vehicle
In addition to the just-in-case items you should always have in your vehicle, such as jumper cables, tire-changing tools, flashlight and a first-aid kit, be sure to carry these winter essentials:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Blankets
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing (wool socks, gloves, hats)
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Road salt or cat litter to help with traction
  • Camping shovel
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Tow rope
  • Brightly colored flag or cloth to tie to your antenna

If you are stranded
If a winter storm strands you with your vehicle, stay calm and follow these tips:

  • Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and hang a distress flag from an antenna or window.
  • If you have a phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.
  • Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.
  • Run your vehicle's engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Exercise a little to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion and sweating.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Don't waste your vehicle's battery power. Balance electrical energy needs—lights, heat and radio—with supply.
  • At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.

This article compliments of State Farm Insurance.


Enjoy Local Nature With Your Family

Year round, more families are taking to the great outdoors for fun activities. Whether for economic reasons or a desire to unplug from the world of computers and video games, parents are increasingly turning to local parks, wildlife outings and outdoor sports.

While children are born with a curiosity about the natural world, more and more, digital media is absorbing young peoples' time, say experts. In fact, research from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates kids are absorbing more than seven hours of media content daily.

"We need to capitalize on the latest digital trends to help us spark a curiosity among students in outdoor activities," says Mary Rollins, vice president of educational partnerships of Discovery Education.

Parents who want to encourage natural curiosity need to stimulate children's interest at an early age. Exploring nature can be done inexpensively and close to home.

Local Wonders
One of the great beauties of America is its geographical diversity: from mountains to lakes, deserts to waterfalls, and canyons to plains. State parks abound with diverse wonders and offer many activities for youngsters, such as boating, fishing and camping. You can search locations online at ExploreTheBlue.com, TakeMeFishing.org, or nps.gov.

"Parents and teachers need to stimulate children's natural interest in the outdoors and lead by example. Simply getting outside together to explore can inspire a new generation of boaters and anglers," says Frank Peterson, President and CEO of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.

Actively Involve Kids
Once you get kids outdoors, here are some ways to stimulate curiosity:
 Let them lead. You may be tempted to lead explorations of the woods, but children are more likely to enjoy the outdoors if they have some say in their experience. Whether for exercise or quiet reflection, let them choose and develop their own relationship to nature. 

Create maps. Have kids create a map of your outdoor excursion area and track where you go and what you see along the way to compare different habitats within an ecosystem. 

Enter contests together that encourage outdoor activities. For example, TakeMeFishing.org and Discovery Education have launched a digital program called "Explore the Blue" and an essay contest for elementary schoolchildren. Kids need to write a short essay describing their favorite fishing or boating experience and submit a picture or photo for a chance to win a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park and a $250 gift card. 

Encourage kids to draw or write about what they see in a journal. Or create a scrapbook to categorize your adventures on land or water, and have children research their floral and animal spotting.

 Build boats. Create model boats using different materials, then test them out on the water for a fun activity that will teach the basics of buoyancy, water displacement, surface area and boat design.

For more information on fun outdoor activities for kids, visit ExploreTheBlue.com.

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