Traffic circles, roundabouts, and rotaries can be a little intimidating for drivers. Yet, even though complaints are made, proponents of these rounded intersections make a good case for their safety. Studies have shown that roundabouts show a 10 percent decrease in bicycle accidents, 30 to 40 percent reduction in pedestrian accidents, 75 percent less crashes involving injuries, and 90 percent less fatal accidents.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also reported that when intersections with traffic signals are changed over to roundabouts, the percent of crashes is reduced by 48 percent. They stated that reducing the severity and number of actual conflict points, plus lower speeds required by approaching vehicles, make the roundabouts safer. The statistics may also reflect the fact that in roundabouts, traffic only moves in one direction.
Roundabouts Confuse Drivers
However, there is a flip side to reduced motor vehicle crashes. Many motorists do not know how to navigate roundabouts correctly and cause other kinds of collisions. A Wisconsin article reported that while there was a 38 percent reduction in car accident injuries and fatalities, the total amount of vehicle crashes increased by 12 percent. Overall, the extra crashes involved one vehicle, and mainly led to property damage.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) took it a step further by determining that rear-end, run-off-road, and sideswipe accidents caused most crashes in a study of 38 roundabouts in Maryland. Common mishaps included collisions with the roundabouts’ center islands and crashes at their entrances.
Safely Navigating Roundabouts
Roundabouts come in different sizes, depending on the roads that feed into them. The most essential safety rule for drivers to follow is to slow down upon approaching. There will be a yield line where drivers must look left for oncoming traffic and wait until there is a safe gap. When there is enough room and time to enter, drivers can pull in and continue to move at a reasonable speed. As the exit approaches, the driver should signal and carefully exit toward the right, checking for other vehicles before proceeding.
Multi-lane roundabouts can be confusing, especially for first-timers and motorists that are unfamiliar with the roads. In most cases, there are signs that clearly indicate the exits. Heavy traffic and speeding vehicles can cause drivers to take the wrong exits, but this is a minor problem. It is also imperative to exit the roundabout immediately if an emergency vehicle enters, and to always give pedestrians the right of way.
Driving in roundabouts can be stressful, but their safety benefits seem to outweigh any negative aspects. Any motorist that feels anxious or unsure while driving through one should slow down and stay aware of their surroundings.
Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Represent Victims of Roundabout Accidents
If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, get help from the Media car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Fill out an online form or call us at 610-565-3701 for a free consultation. With offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.