Are roundabouts safer than intersections?

A roundabout is a one- or two-lane circular intersection that allows traffic to flow at slower speeds. After gaining popularity in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, roundabouts now are becoming increasingly more common in the Midwest, including in Indiana. This is largely because roundabouts are a safer alternative to standard intersections.

Statistics say roundabouts are safer

In numerous safety studies, researchers have found that when roundabouts replace U.S. traffic signals or stop signs:

  • Vehicle accidents with injuries decline by 72-80 percent.
  • Noninjury vehicle accidents decline by 35-47 percent.
  • As drivers become more familiar with roundabouts, fewer accidents occur.
  • Pedestrians are safer in roundabouts because they cross only one direction of traffic at a time.

Why are roundabouts safer?

Some of the reasons that roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections are:

  • Drivers must slow down, often to 15-20-mile-per-hour speeds, to travel through roundabouts in urban settings. This means vehicles can more easily stop for pedestrians and bicyclists in roundabouts and slow down to avoid vehicles entering the roundabout.
  • Drivers are not trying to beat a red light before entering a roundabout.
  • Drivers only have to account for one direction of traffic in a roundabout.
  • Drivers only have eight potential points of contact in a roundabout versus 32 in a standard signaled intersection.
  • Because of how roundabouts route traffic, drivers can avoid dangerous head-on collisions, as well as left-turn crashes or T-bone accidents.

Often, when cities release plans to install more roundabouts, residents voice concerns. They worry about learning to navigate these roundabouts. However, often after the roundabouts are finished, residents realize they improve traffic flow, as well as safety.

FindLaw Network