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Modern roundabouts are safer for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists

Posted May 22, 2018

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photo of a roundabout
The Mitchell Boulevard roundabout is one of an increasing number of roundabouts in Fort Worth.

Roundabouts continue to be added to some local intersections, and more are planned throughout the city, including the newest ones along Park Vista Boulevard in far north Fort Worth.

Don’t confuse a roundabout with a traffic circle. A modern roundabout is a one-way circular intersection where traffic flows counterclockwise around a center island. There are no stop signs or traffic signals, and entering traffic yields to circulating traffic. It is designed to slow the speed of vehicles to typically 25 mph or less. Traffic circles are much larger and often feature stop signs or traffic signals.

According to data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, roundabouts can save lives. Roundabouts reduce crashes by 40 percent and reduce injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections that previously used stop signs or signal lights.

Roundabouts reduce fatal and incapacitating collisions by about 90 percent. They do this in several ways. First, they eliminate the possibility of head-on collisions by redirecting traffic to one-way travel. Second, they reduce speeds as drivers approach the intersection. Finally, because traffic is constantly moving through the intersection, drivers are less inclined to speed up to “beat the light.”

Modern roundabouts are also safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Crosswalks are set further back, allowing drivers more time to react to pedestrians. Pedestrians only have to watch traffic from one direction. Cyclists have the option to ride through the roundabout with traffic or walk their bicycles through the pedestrian crosswalks.

Despite what many people believe, roundabouts actually save the driver time by moving traffic through an intersection more quickly. They promote a continuous flow of traffic because drivers don’t have to wait for a green light to get through the intersection. Traffic yields, instead of being required to stop and wait.

There are many other benefits to a modern roundabout, including being less expensive to maintain, taking up less space by traffic on streets approaching the intersection and even saving money on gas. They are also generally considered to enhance air quality by keeping fewer cars parked and idle compared to a traffic signal, which leads to less time on the road and reduced motor exhaust.

Learn how the City of Fort Worth is implementing roundabouts.

View how to use a roundabout.

View the benefits of roundabouts.

Read more on roundabouts from the American Institute of Highway Safety.

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