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Roundabouts may make roads safer

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Although the number of crashes on the roadways has risen in recent years, there is good news.  According to the Federal Highway Administration, replacing signal-controlled intersections with modern roundabouts has reduced crashes by 78%. Even better news — replacing intersections controlled by stop signs with roundabouts has decreased collisions by 82%.

Salem Four Corners

The Four Corners intersection in Salem — where Routes 82 and 85 meet — is a good example.  In 2012, the Connecticut Department of Transportation replaced the traffic signals at the intersection with a roundabout.  Prior to then (between 2003 and 2008), there were an average of 22 collisions there every year. However, more recent data shows that, from 2018 to 2022, the number of collisions at the intersection dropped to an annual average of 10 (55% lower).

Rules for navigating roundabouts

Traffic circles or roundabouts have a long history that dates back to at least 1905 with the construction of New York City’s Columbus Circle.  However, some drivers are still unfamiliar with how to safely navigate them and believe that some roundabouts are dangerous.  At Hartford’s Pulaski Circle, drivers complain that the lane markings are not clear and that there is confusion about who has the right of way. Driver confusion and stopping in the circle can cause unnecessarily close calls and collisions.

Roundabouts designed in the past few decades are smaller and tighter than older ones, forcing traffic to slow down and merge into single lanes before entering the circle. The main rules of navigating a roundabout are:

  • All traffic goes counterclockwise.
  • Drivers entering the circle yield to traffic already in the circle.

Roundabouts can help to avoid head-on collisions and t-boning. Even if there is a collision between vehicles, they are usually travelling more slowly, resulting in less severe collisions.