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More Roundabouts?

Are more roundabouts in your driving future? There is a good chance that they will be. In fact, Roanoke County alone will construct three new roundabouts in one traffic corridor in the next year.

Some Virginia drivers like them, and others hate them. Does this attitude say more about the use of

More Roundabouts - Altizer Law PC

Image by Greg Reese from Pixabay

roundabouts or more about our driving habits? Perhaps it just says more about our understanding of roundabouts.

Let’s review the basics.

What is a Roundabout?

A roundabout is a circular intersection that moves traffic without traffic lights or signals. The traffic moves in a counterclockwise direction around a central island. When entering a roundabout, traffic slows down and yields the right of way to the traffic already in the roundabout. By directing all traffic in the same direction, the roundabout eliminates the need for drivers to make left turns in the intersection. A roundabout may move one or more lanes of traffic.

What is the Difference between a Roundabout and a Traffic Circle (Rotary)?

Traffic circles or Rotaries are typically much larger than roundabouts. Traffic circles typically have 2 or more lanes, include stop signs, traffic lights or other signals within the circle. Traffic may stop moving in a traffic circle, although it does not stop in a roundabout. Washington, D.C. has a large number of traffic circles.

Why Choose Roundabouts?

Roundabouts are a safer alternative for navigating an intersection than stop signs, traffic signals, traffic lights, etc. By reducing the speed of drivers entering the roundabout, the most severe crash types at intersections are less likely. If a crash does occur, it will be less serious. Left -turn accidents will be eliminated, and head-on collisions cannot occur under normal circumstances.

Roundabouts decrease idling time, which reduces vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. In these ways, they environmentally more friendly.

The absence of traffic lights eliminates driver behavior that attempts to “beat the light.”

Roundabouts are safer for pedestrians. Sidewalks for pedestrians are located on the outside of the roundabout. They cross a roundabout where traffic is moving in only one direction. The distance they must cross in a roundabout is much shorter, and traffic speeds are lower than in conventional intersections. The number of “conflict points” (places where travel paths cross and an accident could occur) is four times higher in a conventional intersection.

Which Intersections May Need Roundabouts?

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, a roundabout should be considered at intersections:

  • With heavy left-turn traffic or with similar traffic volumes on each leg.
  • With crashes involving conflicting through and left-turn vehicles.
  • With limited room for storing vehicles
  • Where there are limited nearby driveways.
  • Where there is a history of a high number of crashes.

Benefits of Roundabouts

Studies have shown that roundabouts offer several benefits over conventional intersections:

  • Injury crashes reduced by 75 percent from intersections controlled by stop signs or traffic lights.
  • Overall crash reduction of 37 percent.
  • Fatality crashes reduced by 90 percent.
  • Pedestrian involved crashes reduced by 40 percent.
  • Reduced intersection delay.
  • Improved traffic flow.
  • Less expensive in terms of long-term cost.
  • Take less space

Navigating a Roundabout

  • You must choose your lane before you enter the roundabout. The right lane is used to go straight or to turn right, the left lane is used to go straight or to turn to the left.
  • Do not try to change lanes once you are in a roundabout.
  • Always yield to emergency vehicles.
  • Yield to the drivers already in the roundabout.
  • Do not stop in a roundabout.
  • Try to avoid driving beside an oversized vehicle (large truck).
  • Always look for pedestrians before exiting the roundabout.
  • Be aware of any bicyclists using the roundabout and give them room to navigate.

Once you have driven through a few roundabouts, you will begin to see some of the safety advantages. You also will understand why they are placed as they are and why they reduce accidents. You may also come to appreciate the time saved and the greatly reduced risk of being involved in an auto accident.

We offer this kind of information in an effort to help you to remain safe and keep your loved ones safe. We genuinely hope you will never need our help. But if you or a loved one is injured through no fault of your own, in an auto accident, trucking accident, motorcycle accident, bicycling accident or pedestrian-involved accident, we hope you will call us. When you do, our entire team at Altizer Law, P.C., goes to work to investigate every detail of the accident, to present your explanation accurately. Bettina Altizer is a fierce advocate to fight for the largest allowable financial settlement for you under Virginia law. We know that when you need us, it’s about the money.