Is the Roundabout the Key to Safer Intersections?
As we may have learned with the demise of htichBOT, we Americans aren’t exactly as neighborly as we may have thought. That lack of consideration for others manifests itself in all sorts of traffic incidents, instigated by a “me-first” attitude. Despite this, a very European type of road feature is spreading across the country, suggesting we are finally learning to share the road. It is called the roundabout, and for some it may look foreign. Others may say, “Oh it’s just a small rotary,” but most rotaries (or traffic circles) are large enough that they have a lane that one merges into. Traffic circles also often have stop lights to regulate the cars entering. But a roundabout is a different beast, and according to a New York Times report, they are on the rise. RELATED: The hitchBOT Hitchhiking Robot Gets Vandalized in Philadelphia This road feature was once mostly relegated to England or France, but showed up here and there in parts of New England through the decades. The roundabout has seen a large growth in New York State, growing from just 18 in 2005, to 112 today. New York City will even get its first roundabout, at an intersection in the Bronx that has been difficult for pedestrians to navigate in its original configuration. Nationally, the number of roundabouts has doubled, and is now at around 5,000.
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Roundabouts do not feature lights or stop signs, rather yield signs and the expectation of cohabitation. You have to merge with the flow of cars, and let others in for it to work.
But the design of the roundabout is said to be safe. Because you have to be turning at all times, there is no opportunity for a jerk driver to floor it and cut across the middle, like a traditional intersection. As a result, experts say the roundabout is actually safer. According to the Federal Highway Administration, accidents that result in serious injury or death are down 82 percent in intersections where a roundabout has replaced a conventional two-way stop. It is down 72 percent when compared to intersections that previously had a traffic light.
So do you think roundabouts are the solution for our aggressive driving? Or is cutting people off at an intersection our right as Americans? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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