Round And Round And Round We Go Without An Accident – We Hope
Whether you love ‘em or loathe ‘em, more and more roundabouts are coming to North Texas. If you’ve never seen a roundabout, they are a type of circular intersection that has several distinguishing features.
- Traffic flows counterclockwise around a center island.
- Due to the curvature of the roundabout, speeds are kept low—usually 15-25 MPH throughout.
- Vehicles already in the roundabout have right-of-way. Any vehicles entering the roundabout must yield to them.
Though these features are almost always present, roundabouts are adapted to the conditions of their location, so some characteristics may vary. As a matter of fact, roundabouts are not even always round! They are built in all shapes and sizes including oval, teardrop, peanut, and dog bone! They may be very small with as few as three lanes of entry and exit or very large and complex with multiple lanes of entry and exit. Though roundabouts have been popular in Europe for years, according to the latest polls, most Americans don’t like them. So, why are more and more of them being built here? Because roundabouts provide benefits that typical intersections do not. They are often safer, more efficient, and less costly. In addition, some people find roundabouts to be more aesthetically pleasing.
According to the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts have the ability to substantially reduce the types of crashes that result in injury or death—not just for those in vehicles but for pedestrians and cyclists as well. As a matter of fact, the reduction is as high as 78-82% when compared to conventional intersections. This is because roundabouts have fewer conflict points, and their design lowers vehicle speeds.
With such great statistics touting the safety of roundabouts, why don’t we just change all our conventional intersections to roundabouts? Unfortunately, roundabouts aren’t the perfect solution. While they are great at preventing serious crashes, according to a recent study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, they may actually cause more non-fatal wrecks. Monitoring of 30 of Wisconsin’s over 300 roundabouts that were previously conventional, traffic-signal-controlled intersections showed a 38% reduction in accident injuries and fatalities. But at the same time, the total number of crashes rose to 12%. This increase is believed to be the result of confusion as drivers tried to navigate the unfamiliar road design.
To help prevent driver confusion, Beau Burdett and his fellow researches in the study suggest that cities make roundabouts conspicuous to drivers before they reach them and that they post clear speed limit signs to remind drivers of the necessity to slow down when going around a curve. In addition, it has been discovered that landscaping the centers of roundabouts is an effective way to grab drivers’ attention.
So, whether we like it or not, roundabouts are likely to be a part of our driving future here in North Texas. Hopefully they’ll lower the number of accidents we experience here. Even if they do, you may still be in an accident at an intersection at some point in your future. If you are, please come to the Accident and Injury Chiropractic office near you and get treated immediately. We’ll have you back out there navigating the nearest roundabout ASAP.