This Article is About
roundabouts
automobile traffic
stop signs
fuel efficiency
traffic lights
road construction
The Roundabouts Are Coming
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The Roundabouts Are Coming

Roundabouts have been utilized as a road construction element throughout Europe for many decades and only recently has the U.S. been using these constructs. Not only are roundabouts more efficient, but they are safer as well. So after you've had a chance to see the stats I hope you'll agree that the U.S. should be utilizing roundabouts everywhere possible.

First, a little history on roundabouts. The ancestor of the roundabout is the traffic circle, which was first designed around 1877. In other words, the traffic circle has been around since the dawn of the automobile. Traffic circles are usually quite large and with a minimum size of 250 feet. They also support fairly fast speeds for an intersection of 30+ MPH. On the other hand, the modern roundabout was designed in the mid-1960's. It differs from the traffic circle as its size is usually less then 250 feet and speeds are typically 15-20 MPH. Traffic circles are used to connect high speed roads that move lots of traffic. Roundabouts are typically found in neighborhoods and can connect two lane and four lane roads which carry local traffic.

OK, so let's get down to the data showing the superiority of roundabouts. We'll look at this from both a driving safety and efficiency perspective. A few points to consider:

1) Roundabouts show an 89% reduction in delays when compared with intersections controlled by traffic lights.

2) Roundabouts show a 13% - 23% reduction in delays when compared with intersections controlled by stop signs.

3) Fuel efficiency is also positively affected when using roundabouts by 30%.

4) Motorists have 40% fewer vehicle collisions using roundabouts.

5) Motorists have 80% fewer injuries overall in roundabouts.

6) And 90% fewer serious injuries and fatalities when using roundabouts.

Since the appearance of roundabouts is a fairly new develoment in the U.S. most drivers probably were not exposed to them in their early training as a novice driver. And the knowledge of negotiating roundabouts wasn't required in the testing for their drivers permit. The good news is that modern, professional drivers ed does teach the use of these road constructs.

For some reason, the introduction of a roundabout into a community can often be very contentious. Given the data there can be little doubt that replacing traditional intersections with roundabouts is a good thing. The most important take-away from this article is that roundabouts are a definite improvement for traffic intersections and we should be pursuing their use at every opportunity.


Street Talk

Yes, we have a new grade school that was just completed and they are constructing a roundabout at the intersection in front of it. It will be interesting to see how it works? I have encountered several roundabouts traveling through central Wisconsin also, it looked like they had been just completed.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

There have been several roundabouts built in my area (Seattle) in the last 10 years or so. They have been working very well. The biggest issue I have seen is of lack of understanding how to use them. I still see many drivers stop before entering even when there is no traffic, which kinda defeats the purpose of the roundabout...

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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