Are roundabouts really safer?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Motor vehicle accidents |

Roundabouts, also known as traffic circles, are becoming increasingly popular on roads worldwide. In recent years, there has been a trend towards using roundabouts in the United States, with more and more communities replacing traditional intersections with these circular structures.

Here’s what you should know about the trend toward roundabouts and what makes them safer than traditional intersections.

The trend toward roundabouts

Roundabouts are becoming more popular worldwide. City planners began using roundabouts in the United Kingdom over a century ago, making them a modern staple of British road design. While roundabouts are not a new concept in the United States, their popularity has grown significantly over the last few decades. Today, there are thousands of roundabouts across the country, and their numbers continue to grow.

What makes roundabouts safer?

The answer lies in the design of the roundabout. A roundabout is a circular intersection where traffic flows counterclockwise around a central island. Unlike traditional intersections, where vehicles cross paths at right angles, vehicles merge into the circular flow of traffic in a roundabout, reducing the likelihood of high-speed collisions.

Reduced number of conflict points

Roundabouts have several features that make them safer than traditional intersections. For one, they reduce the number of conflict points where vehicles can collide. At a traditional intersection, vehicles can collide at 32 possible conflict points. There are only eight conflict points in a roundabout, making it less likely that two cars will crash.

Decreased severity of accidents

Roundabouts also reduce the severity of accidents that do occur. In a traditional intersection, high-speed T-bone collisions are common and often result in severe injuries or fatalities. In a roundabout, the design of the intersection encourages drivers to slow down and make more cautious decisions, reducing the likelihood of high-speed collisions. Additionally, because traffic is moving in a circular pattern, the angle of impact in the event of a crash is typically less severe than in a traditional intersection.

Improved traffic flow

Another safety benefit of roundabouts is improving traffic flow. Roundabouts reduce congestion and delays by allowing traffic to flow more smoothly through the intersection. Because vehicles are not stopping at a red light or stop sign, the overall throughput of the intersection is higher, which reduces congestion and travel time for drivers.

Lower maintenance costs

Roundabouts are less expensive to maintain than traditional intersections. They require less electricity for traffic signals, and because they have fewer conflict points, there is less wear and tear on the pavement and other infrastructure.

Roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections due to their reduced number of conflict points, the decreased severity of accidents, improved traffic flow and lower maintenance costs. While some drivers may find them confusing at first, with proper signage and education, roundabouts are an effective solution for improving road safety and traffic flow.