As the average speed that drivers travel at has increased and the size of vehicles has gone up, the risk involved in collisions has also increased. Lawmakers and municipal planners try to adjust local traffic rules and even road structures to limit the number of severe and fatal collisions that occur.
Recently, Missouri and Kansas have started to embrace the roundabout as a traffic solution at high-density intersections. What are roundabouts and why are they increasingly popular with those planning roadways and making the necessary repairs to existing roads?
Roundabouts keep vehicles in motion
At a traditional intersection, two roads cross each other, and there is open space in the center. That means risk can come at you from just about any direction. People can make all sorts of questionable maneuvers that can result in a crash.
That is not an issue at roundabout, which have a raised circular center in the street that prevents vehicles from going anywhere they like. Vehicles can only follow the circle in one direction. In fact, when traffic is low or moderate, the vehicles approaching don’t have to stop at all. They only have to yield to other vehicles that are already in the roundabout.
Drivers follow a circular pattern, making a right-hand exit regardless of whether you want to turn right, go straight or make a left-hand turn. Eliminating the wide left turn and the angles of approach of other vehicles drastically reduces the possibility of a collision at a roundabout.
The problem with roundabouts is the transition
While the theory behind roundabout use in road planning is solid, there are some issues. The average driver can find roundabouts confusing. Until drivers adjust to the presence of the new roundabout where an intersection used to be, there may be traffic congestion as people come to a complete stop instead of yielding and entering when the flow of traffic allows.
Those who have a long commute and who know there will soon be a roundabout on their way to work may want to look into an alternate route until the local community has adjusted to the change. Learning about harm reduction tools for traffic safety purposes and upcoming changes to the local roads could reduce your chances of a major motor vehicle collision.