The notorious busy Chelmsford roundabout that confuses drivers in Essex

The notorious busy Chelmsford roundabout that confuses drivers in Essex

An Essex-based driving instructor explained the correct lanes to use when navigating the notoriously chaotic Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford. Regardless of how long you've resided or worked in Chelmsford, it's almost a certainty that you've had to tackle this infamous junction.

The roundabout, locally named after a once-popular music venue nearby, is renowned throughout Essex for being a busy and often complex junction to manoeuvre. Its numerous exits and entrances can bewilder both novice and seasoned drivers alike.

This confusion was evident when one individual voiced their uncertainty over which lane to use for different exits on Facebook last year, sparking more than 150 comments offering conflicting advice. Among those responding were driving instructors who, despite their role in educating future drivers, faced criticism for their input.

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The original Facebook post read: "Thank you to the driving instructors who teach the new drivers on Army and Navy roundabout driving from Chelmer [Valley] bridge to use first lane and take the third exit on Van Diemens Way. No surprise we have such bad drivers around, a couple more driving instructors like the one I saw today and we are doomed for eternity."

Whilst many roundabouts may differ in design, the Highway Code's general advice for two-lane roundabouts is to use the left lane for turning left or proceeding straight on. The right lane is designated for turning right or completing a full circuit.

However, at Chelmer Bridge, the road layout transitions from two lanes into three as you approach the roundabout. According to this setup, drivers should use the left lane for the first and second exits, the middle lane for the third exit, and the far right lane for the fourth and fifth exits.

The flyover has now been removed from the Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford
The Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford -Credit:Ricci Fothergill/RMC

Dean Conway, from Supreme School of Motoring in Chelmsford, told EssexLive last year that while the left lane could technically be used for the first three exits, it would become problematic when exiting the roundabout. He believes that drivers will gradually understand the best lanes to use through gaining local experience.

Speaking to EssexLive, he explained: "It's all about using the most appropriate lane. I teach to use left lane for A1114 (1st exit) and Baddow road (2nd exit). Middle lane for Van Dieman's Road (3rd exit). Right lane for Parkway (4th exit) and U-turn (5th exit)".

He added: "You can also use the left lane to go 3rd exit into Van Dieman's Road but after gaining some local knowledge people should realise that doesn't make much sense as the middle lane is better suited."

He further explained why using the first lane to take the third exit wouldn't be practical, saying: "It's getting one lane to do too much work if that makes sense. The left lane already has to manage first and second exit so adding the third exit to it as well would leave the middle lane with no job to do. You'll also be getting yourself caught up with people using the middle lane when trying to come off on a single carriageway."

Back in 2019, we spent a few hours filming the Army and Navy roundabout and observed 82 drivers in the wrong lane - a significant number but still far less than the whopping 312 who were in the incorrect lane at the equally chaotic Miami Roundabout elsewhere in Chelmsford.

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