Drivers in the United States generally dislike roundabouts because of confusion regarding how these circular intersections work. Yet, while motorists know how standard four-way intersections work, serious car accidents happen at intersections every day. Drivers fail to yield, run traffic signals, and don't pay attention to oncoming traffic. As a result, accidents like right-angle collisions occur when one motorist hits the side of another vehicle. An experienced T-Bone accident attorney knows these right angle crashes, called T-Bone collisions because the cars form a "T" shape, are among the most deadly on the road.
In a head-on crash, airbags can cushion the blow and the car's hood can crumple to absorb impact. In a T-Bone accident the side of the car provides limited protection and absorbs almost no force, while side airbags aren't as effective as front airbags. Prevention of T-Bone collisions can save lives. While people may dislike roundabouts, roundabouts virtually eliminate T-Bone accidents and should be considered as an alternative to traditional intersections when possible.
Installing More Roundabouts Should be a Top Goal in US Road Design
In 2007, approximately 1,000 roundabouts were installed throughout the United States according to UC.edu.
Two years prior, in 2005, Congress had made installation of roundabouts eligible for 100 percent funding with the passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act. Roundabouts are being installed more as safety benefits are recognized but the U.S. still lags behind many other countries. An estimated 30,000 roundabouts had been installed in France by 2003.
Resistance to installation of roundabouts has little practical support and should be overcome. The U.S. Department of Transportation's move forward with roundabout installation was motivated by a 2009 study of 17 intersections where a roundabout replaced a traditional intersection. At the studied intersections, a 100 percent reduction in fatal collisions occurred. Changing to a roundabout also reduced crashes causing injury by 84 percent.
Roundabouts have three primary characteristics making them safer: there are fewer points of conflict; drivers often move more slowly; and accidents occur at low angles more often than high angles (T-Bone crashes are high angle crashes).
Drivers traveling at slower speeds can stop more quickly. If they do collide, reduced force and momentum compared with faster moving vehicles means less serious accidents. Points of conflict are areas where cars can hit at intersections. A standard four way intersection has 32 potential points of conflict while a roundabout has eight points of conflict. Low angle accidents are less likely to be serious than high angle accidents.
Roundabouts result in "shorter delays, increased capacity, improved safety, and improved aesthetics." There is no reason to refrain from installing these circles and more municipalities should move forward to increase roundabout use and replace dangerous high-risk intersections with roundabouts.