Roundabouts are becoming more common across the United States. Over the past two decades, municipalities have been embracing circular intersections. Experts love roundabouts because they minimize traffic congestion and fatal accidents.
While the number of fatal accidents at a roundabout drops, compared to traffic-signal-controlled intersections, the number of accidents may actually increase. Here’s a quick guide to navigating roundabouts and avoiding accidents.
Roundabouts and auto accidents
A six-year study in Wisconsin examined 30 roundabouts, which had taken the place of signalized intersections. The study shows that deaths and injuries dropped by 38 percent. However, “the total number of crashes jumped 12 percent. These additional accidents caused mainly property damage, and are thought to be a result of confused or unprepared drivers trying to navigate the unfamiliar roadway design.”
The most common type of roundabout accident are single-vehicle accidents. These include going off the shoulder of the road, whether due to speeding, inebriation or foul weather. Single vehicle accidents make up 30 to 50 percent of all roundabout accidents.
Of the single vehicle accidents, weather is responsible for over a third of them. Impaired driving is the second biggest cause at 19 percent. Accidents were most likely to occur when the driver sped through the roundabout: “The unique geometry and operating characteristics of a roundabout…compounded by impairment or weather conditions increased the likelihood of a run-off-road collision at a roundabout.”
Safely navigating roundabouts
Roundabouts help cut down on fatal and injury accidents because they limit speed and reduce the need to stop. Cars are less likely to suffer head-on or T-bone collisions. They have just eight potential conflict points, as opposed to 32 in traditional intersections.
Safely navigating roundabouts is a matter of knowing who has the right of way. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, “Roundabouts are designed to be simple to use. The geometry cues drivers to slow down, allowing more time for decisions. Once the driver reaches the yield line, he/she yields to traffic already in the roundabout. The only decision remaining is if the driver wants to take the first exit to turn right, the second exit to continue straight, the third exit to turn left, or the fourth exit to make a U-turn.”
Drivers should always yield to traffic inside the roundabout, and limit their speed to the posted speed limit.
If you’ve been injured in a roundabout accident, call the experienced team at the Law Offices of Tim Misny today.
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