How to deal with roundabouts - when to pull out:
Look for traffic exiting the roundabout that will create a gap for you (photo below). If you can pull out without slowing anyone down, or causing them to take avoiding action, then go. However, it is dangerous to pull out if another vehicle is moving fast enough, and is close enough to hit you, because they may not go where you think they will. So if you are in any doubt - WAIT
Make sure that you don't pull out next to someone going around the roundabout in the right hand lane, close to the centre. They won't remain in the right hand lane forever, and they may try to come off the next exit, with you next to them!
Always double-check your decision before & after pulling out. If you don't check to the right again just after you cross the give way line, you won't know what's happening on your right. And if you don't know what's happening, you can't take evasive action! But also, make sure that you pull out checking forwards as well, because if the car in front stops unexpectedly, you might drive straight into the back of it!
In Basildon there are many roundabouts where traffic can turn right from the middle lane: This can be very deceiving when you are waiting to pull out - Expect this to happen, and don't take chances.
If the roundabout is very busy, and you are waiting for ages to pull out. Don't worry. There is no time limit. If you can't go' you can't go! You will only get a fault on test if you don't go when there is a good gap. If your examiner is sitting next to you thinking "Why didn't they go then?" you have probably got a minor fault. It normally takes 4 minor faults within the same category to fail. So it's much better to miss a couple of small gaps and get two minor faults, than to go when it is not safe and get one serious (fail).
Frequently asked questions:
I always have trouble judging when to pull out at a busy roundabout, What can I do differently?
First of all try to be ready to go, sometimes thinking about following out behind a car that you are waiting for, is better than waiting for the gap to actually be there. Often it is not being fast that is necessary, but prompt. Try to predict where the cars coming around are going, if it looks promising start to creep, then if all happens as expected, off you go.
The car next to me pull out, but I'm still sitting there. Why can't I get out as well?
This is because the dynamics are different for each lane. The biggest danger area, where you are most vulnerable, is from the give-way line until past the first exit. There is much further to travel in the left lane before you are safe, than in the right lane.
I never feel that I have enough time to look at everything I need to at a roundabout?
A slow approach is the key, much slower than most other drivers tend to, to give yourself more time to change gear, assess the traffic flow, look ahead and to the right a number of times, and to keep precisely in your lane.
Also try to hold well back from the car in front, maybe 5 car lengths, so that you can look away from them without running the risk of driving into their rear if they brake suddenly. Holding well back also means that you can see any road markings without them being obscured.