Roundabouts are becoming increasingly common here in the U.S. after decades of use in Europe. Many celebrate their implementation of these circular intersections because they keep traffic moving rather than sitting at red lights or stop signs. Some think that there an improvement in the aesthetic beauty of the intersection, which often will have a garden or green space in the center.
The main reason given, however, is that they are safer than conventional four-way intersections. The Federal Highway Safety Commission claims that roundabouts reduce the number of crashes involving people seriously injured or killed by 78-82%, as opposed to those with stop signs or signals.
How they work
Roundabouts have different details, shapes and sizes, but some common traits are:
- Counterclockwise flow: Traffic flows to the right and then the driver picks their exit.
- Entering vehicles yield: The vehicles approaching the roundabout yield to vehicles already in it.
- Lower speeds: Rather than hitting the gas to make a yellow light, the roundabout’s curvature ensures that traffic slows at the intersection.
Many still do not understand how they work
Some complain about the amount of space that a roundabout takes up, particularly in residential areas with fewer stop signs. However, the biggest complaint is that many drivers simply do not know how to use them. Overly cautious drivers are afraid to join the circular flow. Some aggressive drivers get caught in the inside lane and then cut in front of drivers in the outside lane to make their exit (rather than get stuck driving in a circle).
Drivers involved in accidents will often need to seek damages because a negligent driver sideswiped them, or worse tried to turn left instead of veering right. Those involved in motor accidents of these types are advised to speak with an attorney. Not only may the other driver be liable, but the community that installed the roundabout may also not have provided proper signage for its safe use.