Traffic circles, otherwise known as “roundabouts,” are a common intersection alternative that has slowly caught on in the United States. However, Americans resist roundabouts. For many, driver’s education courses didn’t even include instruction on how to maneuver them.
When drivers don’t understand the rules of the road, there’s bound to be chaos. So, has the introduction of roundabouts in the United States been harmful or helpful?
It’s a good question, one that even that even the American-Australian television show, MythBusters has put to the test.
Both the MythBusters and other sources will agree that the roundabout system is a more efficient way to move cars through an intersection, resulting in a highly improved traffic flow with fewer delays.
The use of roundabouts over four-way stop intersections has cut injury accidents by 75 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). There were also 39 percent fewer collisions without injuries and 90% fewer serious or fatal injuries.
A few of the contributing factors to these statistics could be that drivers aren’t tempted to run a yellow light, accidents happening at a roundabout must occur at slow speeds and all of the drivers are headed in the same direction.
However, some situations may still present hazards in a roundabout. Especially in mini roundabouts, electricians and commercial motor vehicle drivers pose a hazard to other motorists because their vehicles are usually too large to fit in just one lane while turning.
Other data suggests that in the United States, car crashes without injuries aren’t reduced by roundabouts. A Wisconsin report suggests that roundabouts slightly increase the number of accidents in total in the US, despite reducing the number of injuries experienced in an accident.
If you’ve been involved in a roundabout crash because another driver didn’t understand how roundabouts work, talk to a personal injury lawyer about your options to recover injury or property damages. However, judging by the data, you’re more likely to be involved in a four-way stop accident than a roundabout crash. If you have the option, start taking the roundabout route home!