By Cars.com EditorsOctober 3, 2017
About the video
Matt Schmitz with Cars.com provides insight into the logic around roundabouts in this week’s segment of Driving Smart.
(upbeat music) Whether you love 'em all around or roundly reject them, roundabouts are an increasingly popular method of moving more cars through an intersection more quickly, more efficiently and much more safely.
This imported European traffic control measure has the stats on its side when it comes to curbing crashes. Traditional signalized intersections converted to roundabouts have been shown to reduce injury accidents by up to 80%, and collisions overall by up to 50. The way it typically works, vehicles enter a roundabout and travel counter-clockwise, forced to slow down to anywhere between 15 and 35 miles per hour to negotiate the tight turn radius around a raised center island. Cars entering the roundabout must yield to those already circulating, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. And slow, consistent speeds are maintained throughout. Drivers then proceed to their exit following signs and pavement markings. Multilane roundabouts like this one behind me, can be more confusing, i.e. more intimidating than single lane ones. But generally speaking, if you need to turn right, choose the outside lane. If you're going left or making a U-turn, choose the inside lane. If you're going straight, you can use either. At a traditional four-way intersection, dangers abound from red light runners and left turn conflicts causing the most deadly sorts of encounters between cars. But vehicles inside a roundabout move at drastically reduced speeds, and all in the same direction. That means potential for the worst crashes is virtually eliminated, leaving only the far less injurious sideswipes and low speed rear-end accidents. Americans have been slow to accept the roundabout, which like the controversial zipper merge, may seem to some like just another fancified traffic engineer's idea that only works on paper. But surveys have shown a 70% favorable rating of roundabouts among motorists on average, just a year after construction. Keeping in mind that roughly a quarter of all US traffic fatalities occur at intersections, are these success stats for roundabouts enough to make you come around? (upbeat music)