Most of us remember when roundabouts started popping up in cities across the United States. Some of us loved the design and eased the flow of traffic. And others hated the idea and sometimes abused the technique. No matter which side you are on, the fact remains that roundabouts are here to stay. In fact, they are increasingly used in many cities, including Los Angeles.
This begs the question of whether they are safer than traditional intersections with traffic lights. Furthermore, what is it about roundabouts that make them safer? Do they really help prevent accidents? Let’s take a look at these questions.
Are Roundabouts Safer than Traditional Intersections?
Many road safety organizations believe that roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections. Why? Because of the unique design and counterclockwise flow of traffic funneling through. Roundabouts not only keep vehicles from crossing in front of each other, but they also are safer because:
· They force drivers to drive at a slower speed
· There are fewer opportunities for collisions
· There is little chance for a head-on collision
· There are less rear-end collisions
· Pedestrians have better visibility
Roundabouts are also safer because their unique design only has eight conflict points. A traditional intersection has 32 conflict points. They also provide safer options for pedestrians, such as crosswalks on the outside perimeter of the roundabout. That means that pedestrians cross in front of vehicles less. Combined with slower speeds, that makes roundabouts safer for pedestrians as well.
Do Roundabouts Help Prevent Accidents?
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 25% of all auto collisions occur at intersections. Roundabout use is said to reduce crashes with injuries or fatalities by as much as 78-82%. Research also shows that roundabouts reduce general collisions by 35-47%.
Of course, we have to remember that any type of intersection can be dangerous if drivers do not obey traffic laws or do not properly use the design. When used properly, roundabouts improve traffic flow and help avoid congestion. They provide a safer way for traffic to move through intersections with less risk of collisions.