Unlike other New England states (we're looking at you, Massachusetts), Maine does not have a lot of rotaries (or traffic circles, roundabouts, whatever you want to call them).

The City of Augusta has several of them, and there are a handful spread across the rest of the state.

While we may think of roundabouts (rotaries, traffic circles, whatever) as a fairly modern invention, they date back hundreds of years.  A Wikipedia article explains that the first rotary for traffic flow was built in Paris around 1780.  The first in the United States was built sometime in the early 1790s.  The first really modern (for use with cars and trucks) traffic circle was built in San Jose, California, in 1907.

Since the 1960s, the concept of traffic circles has really taken off.  This is especially true in places that have traditionally dealt with huge amounts of traffic.  Los Angeles, for example.

What Are the Benefits of Rotaries?

According to the Maine.gov website, some of the big benefits of rotaries over regular intersections include an increase in traffic capacity, calming of traffic (because you have to slow down), fewer crashes, and a reduction in the severity of the crashes that do happen.

Also, there is an aesthetic improvement to the area occupied by the rotary.  If you don't know what I mean, look at what the City of Augusta has done in the green space in the center of our traffic circles.

This image shows one of the Augusta rotaries under construction.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Do I Legally Need to Use My Signal Light in a Rotary?

This may seem like an obvious one to many people, but the question gets asked more often than you'd think.

The Maine.gov website makes no mention of using a signal light as you enter the rotary.  After all, you are only supposed to be turning right when you enter the circle.

However, it does mention that you should use your signal light when you get ready to exit the rotary.  This allows other drivers to know when you are getting ready to leave the rotary.

Other Rules When Using Rotaries

In addition to signaling when you get ready to exit a rotary, you should also drive a slow speed in the rotary.  They are not meant to be driven at the regular speed of the adjacent road/street.  You should always enter to rotary in the correct lane for your exit (as marked on the signs and/or pavement), you need to remember that traffic already in the rotary has the right of way, and you should never pass another vehicle in a rotary.

Check out other tips for laws for using Maine's rotaries HERE.

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Gallery Credit: Sarah Jones

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