Q: Do roundabouts increase or decrease pedestrian accidents?
Every time you approach a roundabout, you inadvertently become paranoid. Although you know the rules of the intersection, you’re not 100 percent sure that everyone else does. So you carefully watch all of the cars to make sure you can enter, obsessively monitor the traffic around you while in the circle, and take a sigh of relief as soon as you exit the circle. This is pretty much your routine for every roundabout you hit during your commute—constantly focusing on the roundabout traffic while ignoring any other distractions.
Now generally, this routine works, and works well. However, today you were thrown for a loop when something happened that has never happened before. A man and his dog approached the roundabout and wanted to cross. What were you supposed to do? Your attention is usually on the cars, not pedestrians, and therefore you came about two inches from hitting him before you heard his dog bark.
What are the rules for pedestrians at roundabouts? Is it safe for them to cross? What should you know about roundabout crosswalks to help avoid any future pedestrian accidents?
Pedestrian Safety Considerations in Roundabout Designs
Extensive abstract research from the Federal Highway Administration indicates that roundabout crossings should be significantly safer for pedestrians than crossing conventional intersections. Although direct data for roundabout pedestrian accidents is somewhat limited in the U.S., research performed in Europe—where roundabouts are more prevalent—suggests that converting conventional intersections to roundabouts can reduce pedestrian crashes by about 75 percent.
This affirmation is backed up by the fact that roundabout crossings are specifically designed to decrease pedestrian and traffic risks over conventional intersection crossings. The design takes into account the risk factors for traditional intersection crossings, and improves upon the design to eliminate these risks.
Common risk factors that are dealt with in roundabout crossings are:
- Speed. Since traffic must yield throughout the circle, as well as maintain control throughout the turn, speed is drastically reduced. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average speed in a roundabout is 20 mph, and the chance of a pedestrian being killed if hit by a vehicle is only 15 percent. However, in conventional intersections, the average speeds are typically 30 to 40 mph, and the chances of being killed if hit by a vehicle range from 45 percent to 85 percent.
- Multi-directional traffic threats. Since pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the perimeter of the circulatory roadway, they cross only one direction of traffic at a time. Not only does this allow for greater visibility for traffic, but also eliminates the risk of accidents being caused by left-hand turns, oncoming traffic, and red-light turns that occur at traditional intersections.
- Crossing length. In conventional intersections, pedestrians must cross up to six lanes of traffic in an extremely limited time frame. However, roundabout crossings are split up into sections, creating shorter crossing distances in order to prevent traffic build-up, pedestrian worry, and potential road rage accidents.
What to Do When a Walker Causes an Accident
Although roundabout crossings are meant to decrease accident risks, and promote pedestrian-traffic awareness, the unfortunate reality is that accidents can still happen. When pedestrians fail to follow the rules, or other motorists overcorrect to avoid pedestrians, you could wind up suffering the consequences of their actions.
Car accident treatments and recovery can not only be long and arduous—but extremely expensive. If you’re not at fault, we don’t think that you should be forced to deal with the aftermath on your own. Contact us today for a free consultation about whether you're entitled to damages and compensation for your injuries. We may be able to help you get the money you need and deserve for your treatment. Call today!
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