Roundabouts Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


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The roundabout is a fiendishly clever invention that stops cars hitting each other by putting a huge, round island in the middle of the road. Drivers then have to concentrate so hard on avoiding the island that they forget entirely about smashing into traffic.

Some local councils have taken this a step further by adding traffic lights to otherwise perfectly functional roundabouts. The theory is that drivers will instead concentrate on the red light, waiting for the second it turns green to sound their horns at the learner driver in pole position. This, however, only serves to confuse us, because in adding the traffic lights local councils also insist on making three lanes merge into two on the sharpest corner of the roundabout, during which drivers invariably remember that they are supposed to be hitting each other, and often do.

There is a theory that roundabouts have a severe effect on the psychological makeup of a country depending on which side of the road the country drives on. In countries that drive on the left (such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK, India, much of South-east Asia and the Falkland Islands) the left side of the brain gets squashed as a driver goes round a roundabout, which crushes the cells responsible for language and reasoning. Conversely, in countries that drive on the right (everywhere else except Thailand, where they drive in the middle) the side of the brain responsible for creativity gets crushed. Independent observers have pointed out that this explains why the English are unreasonable and incomprehensible, but make the best pop music on the planet.

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