According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), nearly 800,000 accidents occur at intersections every year in the U.S. That means approximately 36 percent of traffic accidents are caused by a failure to take turns and navigate through intersections properly.
DOT analysis indicated that the danger of traditional criss-cross intersections lies in the angles and corners of the intersection. These angles tend to obstruct the view of drivers, causing "blind accidents." In fact, it's estimated that the limited view at intersections is 335 times more likely to cause a critical accident than in open-view roads.
To help decrease traffic-crossing risks, transportation planners in the United States are looking to Europe for safer road layouts. As a result, some of our roads are being revamped with circular intersections called roundabouts.
Driving in Roundabouts Safely
Roundabouts are circular byways that replace criss-cross—also known as stop-and-go—intersections with a simplified yielding process. Since roundabouts don't have stop lights, they help ease traffic congestion, and the circular design allows drivers to see oncoming traffic as it enters the byway, eliminating obstructions and lowering the risk of blind accidents.
Statistics indicate that roundabouts help reduce intersection collisions, but merging in and out of them can be confusing for first-time drivers. To avoid a potential collision, it’s important to know the following navigational rules:
- Look for pedestrians. Before merging into a roundabout, confirm that pedestrians aren't attempting to cross at the same time. Roundabout crosswalks are placed several feet in front of the byway, as opposed to intersection crosswalks that are precisely at the turn points.
- Spot vehicles already in the circle. Before entering the roundabout, you must look for vehicles approaching from the left. Traffic in roundabouts always follows a counter-clockwise rotation. When entering a roundabout, you must yield to all vehicles already within the circle, whether they’re merging or following the circle to an exit.
- Check your lane. Before entering the roundabout, make sure you’re in the correct lane for your exit. Exit lanes break-off the circle depending on street direction. Most lanes are clearly indicated for specific exits, so it's best to enter the roundabout into the correct lane for your eventual exit. Some roundabouts are single lane byways, while others can have as many as three lanes, and you usually can't change lanes in the middle of the circle. For roundabouts with two or more lanes:
- Remain in the right lane to exit right or to continue straight.
- Use the left (or inner lane) to go straight, turn left or make a U-turn.
- Use your signal. When approaching your exit, turn on your blinker to signal that you’re getting off. By signaling your intention, drivers behind you can anticipate that you’ll be slowing down and adjust speed accordingly.
- Never stop in a roundabout. The primary purpose of a roundabout is to keep traffic flowing continuously. If you stop in a roundabout you not only disrupt traffic but also create the potential for multiple rear-end collisions. If you're confused about which lane to be in or bypass your exit, simply continue around the circle until you can make a decision.
- Don't ignore a yield. A roundabout allows traffic to smoothly enter and exit an intersection without the need for alternate stop-and-go movement. However, if you choose to ignore a vehicle already in the circle, you run the risk of causing or suffering a T-bone accident—exactly the type of accident the roundabout is trying to avoid. There's absolutely no need to try and merge ahead of someone—simply flow right in behind him.
Where to Turn When Your Collision Insurance Has You Stuck in a Loop
If you or a family member has suffered a serious roundabout accident as a result of a negligent driver, you may be entitled to damages and injury compensation. Don’t allow your insurance company to give you the runaround. Contact us for a free and straightforward consultation. We’ll be more than happy to use all of our skills to help steer you in the most direct path toward your injury settlement. Call (386) 673-4412 today to see how we can help you.
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