A traffic roundabout is a type of intersection in which traffic flows in a continuous circle controlled by yield signs, rather than stop signs. Common in Europe but growing in popularity in the United States, studies have shown that roundabouts can be advantageous in creating safer intersections that benefit all drivers when properly used.
As the state of California looks to improve traffic conditions as well as pedestrian and driver safety in populated metropolitan areas, many cities are adopting more roundabouts. In California alone, the number of roundabouts within the State Highway System has increased by nearly fifty percent over the last ten years, with dozens of more intersections currently in planning stages.
Backed By Research
As traffic incidents continue to rise in California, legislation is eager to implement changes that will improve the safety and congestion of developing urban areas. The California traffic roundabout movement is backed by research geared toward improving roadway safety in cities. The state plans to use roundabouts to complement existing public safety programs such as the Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, Complete Streets, and Vision Zero which aim to lower the number of fatalities from traffic accidents.
A national study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration FHA) and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) found that the use of traffic roundabouts significantly lowered the number of collisions and deaths within intersections. Research conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program showed a 37% reduction in overall collisions, a 75% reduction in injury collisions, a 40% reduction in pedestrian collisions, and a 90% reduction in overall fatalities within intersections that adopted a roundabout compared to the same intersection’s previous a standard configuration.
A large component of this reduction has to do with the number of “T-bone” crashes that occur in standard intersections. This common and generally serious type of auto accident is nearly eliminated by the structure and flow of a traffic roundabout.
Click here to see the location of existing and planned traffic roundabouts in California and throughout the U.S.
Benefits of Traffic Roundabouts
In addition to the added safety benefits of circular traffic patterns, there are a number of additional advantages that support the increasing number of residents across popular California areas.
- Traffic Flow and Capacity
The Federal Highway Administration found that roundabouts increased traffic capacity by 30 percent to 50 percent compared to signalized intersections, reducing congestion and delays caused by red lights and stop signs.
- Pedestrian Safety
Roundabouts move all traffic flow in the same direction improving visibility for both pedestrians and drivers. The center median can also provide pedestrians with a central cross-point, minimizing the amount of traffic that needs to be crossed. Bicyclists can easily merge with roundabout traffic and ride at a speed similar to vehicles.
The circular nature of traffic roundabouts forces drivers to reduce speeds, creating a safer environment for all vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
- Environmentally Friendly
Roundabouts decrease air pollution, fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions by allowing vehicles to move through intersections without stopping or idling.
- Cost Effective
Traffic circles and roundabouts require less maintenance, have lower yearly operational costs associated with traffic signals, do not require police presence during power outages, and can help beautify a community.
While roundabouts offer many benefits, there remain concerns about driver safety and collisions on California roads. Drivers may need time to adjust to the traffic patterns and flows of circular intersections. Rear-end collisions are common within U.S. roundabouts caused by drivers stopping unnecessarily.
Although traffic circles and roundabouts are relatively new to California, the experienced auto accident attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson are equipped to handle any form of intersection crash. By conducting independent, thorough investigations the team can construct a solid evidentiary case that can help your fight for justice and compensation.
Contact the award-winning California auto accident attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson today for your free case evaluation.