Roundabouts prevent accidents, but drivers usually oppose them

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Studies have shown that replacing traditional intersections with roundabouts can prevent accidents and save lives, but drivers in Georgia and around the country usually object when traffic planners suggest making this change. Roundabouts, which are sometimes called traffic circles in the United States, were first introduced in the 1960s in the United Kingdom because they prevent traffic backups and slow vehicles down as they pass through intersections. Roundabouts are now the preferred way of managing traffic at intersections in Europe and many other parts of the world, but motorists in the United States rarely encounter them.

Preventing accidents

Roundabouts reduce motor vehicle accident injuries and deaths because they force the vehicles that use them to reduce speed and travel in the same direction. When intersections are controlled by traffic signals or stop signs, vehicles can be involved in catastrophic T-bone and head-on collisions. When vehicles traveling in the same direction crash, accidents are usually minor, and serious injuries are rare. Researchers in Europe, the United States and Australia have found that replacing traditional intersections with roundabouts can reduce accident injuries by as much as 87%.

Making roundabouts the norm

Roundabouts offer financial as well as safety benefits. They are inexpensive to install and maintain, and they last up to 25 years. This is why states like Virginia and New York have introduced policies that require traffic planners to consider roundabouts first when intersections must be upgraded or built. Drivers may object to these policies, but studies show that they usually become accustomed to roundabouts fairly quickly. A study published in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal in 2002 revealed that proposals to install roundabouts in three American communities were supported by only 31% of drivers. After the roundabouts were built, 63% of drivers approved of them.

Myriad benefits

Roundabouts offer myriad benefits. They prevent accidents and reduce the severity of accidents that do occur, and they speed up traffic flow. Roundabouts also prevent traffic backups, which reduces idling and improves air quality. Drivers tend to oppose roundabouts because they are unfamiliar with them, but researchers have found that this opposition usually dissipates fairly quickly after roundabouts have been installed.