Take a look in your local neighborhood and you might notice more roundabouts/traffic circles popping up instead of stop lights or stop signs. They are common place in any countries except here but the trend is on the rise. Why is this happening you might wonder? Well it turns out that they are more efficient and safer for starters.
Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Studies by the IIHS and Federal Highway Administration have shown that roundabouts typically achieve:
A 37 percent reduction in overall collisions
A 75 percent reduction in injury collisions
A 90 percent reduction in fatality collisions
A 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions
There are several reasons why roundabouts help reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions:
Low travel speeds – Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering a roundabout. Speeds in the roundabout are typically between 15 and 20 miles per hour. The few collisions that occur in roundabouts are typically minor and cause few injuries since they occur at such low speeds.
No light to beat – Roundabouts are designed to promote a continuous, circular flow of traffic. Drivers need only yield to traffic before entering a roundabout; if there is no traffic in the roundabout, drivers are not required to stop. Because traffic is constantly flowing through the intersection, drivers don’t have the incentive to speed up to try and “beat the light,” like they might at a traditional intersection.
One-way travel – Roads entering a roundabout are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection and help them travel counterclockwise around the roundabout. The curved roads and one-way travel around the roundabout eliminate the possibility for T-bone and head-on collisions.
Contrary to many peoples’ perceptions, roundabouts actually move traffic through an intersection more quickly, and with less congestion on approaching roads. Roundabouts promote a continuous flow of traffic. Unlike intersections with traffic signals, drivers don’t have to wait for a green light at a roundabout to get through the intersection. Traffic is not required to stop – only yield – so the intersection can handle more traffic in the same amount of time.
Studies by Kansas State University http://www.ksu.edu/roundabouts/ measured traffic flow at intersections before and after conversion to roundabouts. In each case, installing a roundabout led to a 20 percent reduction in delays. Additional studies by the IIHS of intersections in three states, including Washington, found that roundabouts contributed to an 89 percent reduction in delays and 56 percent reduction in vehicle stops.
The cost difference between building a roundabout and a traffic signal is comparable. Where long-term costs are considered, roundabouts eliminate hardware, maintenance and electrical costs associated with traffic signals, which can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 per year.
Roundabouts are also more effective during power outages. Unlike traditional signalized intersections, which must be treated as a four-way stop or require police to direct traffic, roundabouts continue to work like normal.
A roundabout may need more property within the actual intersection, but often take up less space on the streets approaching the roundabout. Because roundabouts can handle greater volumes of traffic more efficiently than signals, where drivers may need to line up to wait for a green light, roundabouts usually require fewer lanes approaching the intersection.
So when driving around be on the lookout for roundabouts and as always DRIVE SAFE!!!
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