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Research pushes roundabouts

When you picture a roundabout, you might also picture Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower in the distance behind it. Thanks to recent reports, though, we’re starting to see more roundabouts stateside. Research points to these road circles as safer and more efficient than the sharp-angled intersection, and transportation agencies across the United States are reading up. So what does the research say?

  • The roundabout’s circular design forces drivers to slow down, and slower speeds lead to 30-40% fewer pedestrian crashes (according to the Federal Highway Administration)
  • Even though traffic does not stop, roundabouts reduce the right-angle crashes, which lead to more severe injuries and fatalities.
  • One lane of counterclockwise traffic means pedestrians and bicyclists watch for cars coming from only one direction, instead of tracking left- and right-driving traffic at the same time.

The National Cooperative Research Highway Program’s 2016 annual report (below) explains that Report 572: Roundabouts in the United States demonstrated the benefits of roundabouts, convincing engineers to choose circles instead of traditional intersections. Maybe someday we’ll say “toodles” to stop signs and red lights altogether.

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