Roundabouts, or traffic circles, are becoming more and more popular with city planners lately to improve traffic flow and overall road safety. In fact, you’ve probably run into one while driving in a residential area or around the local roads in your community.
Roundabouts have been around for decades, but are gaining more traction as an effective alternative to conventional traffic lights. In a traditional roundabout, vehicles travel in one counterclockwise direction around a center island. Vehicles that are entering the roundabout yield to those already in the traffic circle, and there are usually lanes for vehicles to exit the traffic circle onto their desired street.
The most common types of accidents that occur in traditional intersections are left-turn, t-one, and head-on collisions. Roundabouts have been found to be very effective in intersections that involve high-crash locations, multiple left-turn configurations, and prolonged traffic light cycles. In fact, some states, such as New York and Virginia, have opted to consider roundabouts as the first option for road planning versus conventional traffic lights. There are even some smaller islands and regions where traffic lights have been replaced altogether by roundabouts. Other benefits of traffic circles include reduced fuel consumption and emissions since car spend less time idling at traffic lights.