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Drivers are slowly acclimating themselves to two new roundabouts in Bedford. (HENRY METZ/Union Leader Correspondent))

Bedford drivers adjusting to new traffic roundabouts

BEDFORD - It's taking some time for local drivers to figure out the rules of the road when it comes to a pair of newly constructed roundabouts in town.

According to police Lt. Michael Bernard, some motorists have called to inquire what they should do when they approach the roundabouts, located on Meetinghouse Road and the Donald Street Extension near the new Market Basket.

"We want people to realize that those drivers already in the roundabout have the right of way," Bernard said. "Drivers approaching the roundabout who aren't in it yet have to yield to those who are."

Roundabouts are what traffic engineers refer to as "traffic calming" devices, often used in place of more expensive traffic lights. "It's kind of like a smaller version of a traffic circle," Bernard said.

In Bedford, the newest roundabout is located at the entrance to the new Market Basket on Donald Street. The Meetinghouse Road roundabout, constructed last summer, forms the junction of Meetinghouse, Gault and Patten roads.

Another rule motorists should understand about roundabouts is that drivers already in the circle have the right of way when exiting the roundabout, Bernard said.

In Goffstown, drivers have had more time getting used to two roundabouts that were installed about two years before the ones in Bedford, one in Grasmere and the other at the intersection of Wallace Road and Route 114.

For Goffstown Police Capt. Rob Browne, roundabouts "are certainly a tool to help keep traffic moving," but added "they don't absorb a huge amount of our time" in the department's traffic division.

"I think they serve a purpose," Browne said. "It has slowed traffic significantly in that area of Wallace Road near the high school, which is what it was designed for."

Still, some motorists continue to have difficulty navigating the roundabouts, Browne acknowledged, but not because of their design.

"I just think people who have difficulty with roundabouts also have difficulty with any kind of intersection," he said. "It's just a question of not being distracted and paying attention as you approach it."

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