Are roundabouts safe?
It’s time to debunk the mystery of the those weird circles. Some say it came from Sweden and rumors swirl that it’s strange alien technology (round circle and spaceships are round, right?) Okay, we made up the alien bit but there are a lot of misconceptions and confusion about the roundabout today. The truth is roundabouts contribute a lot to our nation’s traffic operations. So here are the facts on roundabouts, no aliens involved.
The roundabout was invented in Europe
False: The traffic circle was invented by William Phelps Eno and have been used in the United States since 1905. Other than having an pretty neat last name, Eno is credited with inventing the stop sign, pedestrian crosswalk, one-way street and wrote the first manual of police traffic regulations, among other things. The modern roundabout, which is smaller and uses the “give-way” rule where entering traffic must yield to the left, was created in the United Kingdom in the 1960s according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Traffic circles and roundabouts are the same
False, technically: Each state is different, but generally in the U.S. traffic engineers recognize that traffic circles either use stop signs to control traffic or are not formally controlled, but in roundabouts entering traffic must yield to traffic from the left. Traffic circles are also larger than roundabouts. Traditional traffic circles fell out of favor in the U.S. in the 1950s as a result of a lot of accidents and traffic lock-up. In modern roundabouts drivers must slow down in order to navigate the tight corners of the circle. Traffic circles were much larger and vehicles could essentially merge and weave through at high speeds and entering vehicles had the right of way.
Roundabouts improve safety
True: If you think about it at a traffic light vehicles are essentially coming at each other from all different directions compared to roundabouts where all traffic moves the same direction. Roundabouts reduce the chance of the most common types of car accidents, which IIHS lists as right-angle, left-turn and head-on. In fact the IIHS reports that of the intersections that converted to roundabouts, the reduction in all crashes was 35-47 percent and the occurrence of injuries in accidents was reduced by 72-80 percent.
We hope this post helped take some of the confusion out of roundabouts and we hope to see you soon here at Matt Castrucci Nissan. Thanks for reading!