As a result of eliminating left-hand turns, roundabouts have been found to be exponentially safer than normal intersections. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that when used properly, converting dangerously busy intersections into controlled roundabouts results in a significant reduction of crashes, fatalities, injuries, stops, idling, and delays.
Unfortunately, confusion and uncertainty of how to properly navigate these circular intersections have caused many needless collisions. Therefore, the Federal Highway Administration was forced to create new and improved navigational safety features and rules to help encourage motorists to pay attention and plan their route before even entering the circle.
Roundabout Features You Can’t Ignore
A 2007 study performed by the Federal Highway Administration found that 40 percent of drivers were confused about roundabout navigation—despite traffic signals and signs—even after a full year of use. This alarming statistic concerned the Federal Highway Administration to take further action to help safely show the proper way to approach and navigate roundabouts without confusion. Hopefully, the following safety features don’t need a lot of explanation to get their points across. However, they still depend on you and your fellow motorists to paying attention and following through with the rules.
Warning signs should be clear and noticeable to help show that you need to slow down because a roundabout is near. These signs should include:
- Speed limit signs well in advance of roundabouts
- Large "Roundabout Ahead" and Yield signs
- Pavement markings that indicate which lane you should be in before you enter the circle
- Adequate lighting
Inner Circle Features
Once you’re in the circle, you need to be able to navigate safely and stay within your designated lane. Some safety features that can help decrease confusion include:
- Center island landscaping to block distracting traffic ahead and limiting your through vision
- Some roundabouts have continued lane markings within the circle itself to help aid you in exiting procedure
- Islands separating the approach and exit lanes, known as splitter islands, should provide pedestrians refuge and help break up the roundabout into sections
The increased complexity of multi-lane roundabouts make navigation more confusing. This is why multi-lane roundabouts include:
- Signs well in advance
- Lane markings before, within, and after the circle
- Yield signs that remind you that when you enter traffic, you must yield to all lanes of traffic—not just the one you’re planning on getting into
Protect Yourself by Educating the Masses
Although it is perfectly natural to become confused—and even a little panicky the first time you enter a roundabout—this doesn’t give you the right to put other people in danger. Help us prevent these first timer accidents, as well as educate those who are still a bit shaky with roundabout etiquette by sharing this page with your social media connections. With a simple click of the Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus icons on this page, you can help other drivers learn how to navigate through the circle safely.
Your friends and loved ones may need this information, too. Help them find it by sharing this page now, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident.