When driving in an area that is new to you, you may find something else new, too: a roundabout intersection. If you frequently travel throughout Columbus and Ohio, you will notice more and more roundabouts each year, not only in new developments but when older roads are upgraded. However, you might not understand how roundabouts work and wonder why they are becoming more commonplace. So, why are Ohio communities building roundabouts?
The main reason is roundabouts are safer than intersections. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration reports that roundabouts reduce vehicle accidents by 44 percent and reduce the number of vehicle accidents with injuries by up to 87 percent.
Roundabouts are safer because:
- Drivers must slow down and maintain slower speeds to navigate a roundabout.
- When drivers understand navigating roundabouts, roundabouts simplify decision-making for drivers.
- Roundabouts only have eight potential points of conflict, while traditional intersections have 32 possible conflict points.
- Roundabouts greatly reduce the risks for head-on crashes and left-turn accidents, which often are the most devastating accidents.
- Roundabouts are generally safer for pedestrians. If pedestrians have to cross a roundabout, they only have to watch for one direction of traffic at a time. They also cross shorter distances and can follow sidewalks around the roundabout perimeter to avoid coming into contact with cars.
Because of these safety advantages, some states, such as New York and Virginia, have adopted “roundabout first” policies. This means anytime a new road is constructed or an old one is upgraded, community planners consider adding a roundabout first as part of that.
Roundabouts also have become popular because they are cheaper to maintain than intersections with stoplights and are better for the environment. When cars don’t have to wait at a stoplight, they aren’t putting as many pollutants in the air.
As a driver, the more roundabouts you drive through, the more comfortable you will feel with them.