Anyone in the Dane or Sauk County area can tell you that roundabouts are popping up everywhere and there is no indication that they will not continue to be the intersection of choice with the people responsible for road design. A roundabout is a circular intersection that has been touted by transportation officials as a proven safety solution that reduces both the number and severity of crashes. They do both because those slow traffic.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, at locations in which roundabouts are installed, there is more than a 90% reduction in fatalities and a 76% reduction in injuries. Head-on and high-speed, right-angle collisions are virtually eliminated. Although the statistics show that roundabouts reduce the severity of the injuries and the crash, whether they reduce the number of accidents is still open to debate.
In the 8 months following a roundabout opening in Raleigh, North Carolina, 42 accidents took place and in Albany, New York, a newspaper reports that crashes at 15 of the 20 roundabouts constructed in the region. It seems as though the roundabouts are more complicated and difficult to navigate than most people think, especially within a short time after the construction.
There are two categories of roundabouts. There is a single-land and a multi-land roundabout. The multiple-lane roundabout tends to confuse more drivers, especially right after they open as it takes a bit more time to get used to navigating the multi-lane roundabout. At the Raleigh roundabout mentioned above, crash counts were highest in the first three months after it opened.
Living and working in both Sauk and Dane County I have had the opportunity of navigating both single and multi-lane roundabouts. The single-lane roundabouts work great. It slows traffic but does not bring it to a stop allowing for a smooth and orderly transition from one road to another. In the locations that generally had stop signs before they were replaced by the roundabouts there would be long waits and dangerous left hand turns trying to get onto a busy roadway.
The multi-lane roundabouts are a different story. Some drivers don’t understand who has the right away. Also, a wider, two-lane roadway, allows drivers to approach and enter the intersection much faster than a single-lane. Because of the higher rate of speed when they enter drivers sometimes take up both lanes or try to make a left turn from the right lane or a right turn from the left lane causing problems that could lead to crashes and injuries.
There are some guidelines to remember as you drive through a roundabout.
- Slow down
- In multi-lane roundabouts, use the left lane to turn left, the right lane to turn right and all lanes to go through, unless directed otherwise by signs and pavement markings
- Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists
- Yield at the entry to circulating traffic
- Stay in your lane within the roundabout and use your right-turn signal to indicate your intention to exit
- Always assume trucks need all available space-don’t pass them in the roundabout
- Clear the roundabout to allow emergency vehicles to pass
- Finally, and most importantly, keep an eye on the vehicles as you both approach the roundabout and as you go through the roundabout. Always expect the other driver to make a mistake. If you follow these warnings there is a good chance of being able to react and prevent an accident.
Hopefully, you or a loved one are never in a serious automobile accident. In the event that you are please contact the attorneys at Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC who have been representing victims injured in car accidents for more than 25 years. We represent only injured victims and not insurance companies and we have been working with injured victims and their families helping to recover millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. We offer contingency fee cases so that there is no cost to you unless there is a recovery and our initial consultation is always free and with no obligation. For more information on this check us out on our website or contact Attorney Mark L. Krueger for a free, no obligation consultation.