If Pennsylvania were to follow Washington state’s lead, they could improve roadway safety by eliminating stoplights in favor of roundabouts. Roundabouts, traffic circles, or rotaries were proven to reduce automobile accidents by a significant amount, according to studies by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
Why do roundabouts increase traffic safety?
To navigate a roundabout, a driver must yield and slow down. There is no “gunning it” to get across the intersection quickly. And while car accidents might increase initially at locations where roundabouts are installed, these rates drop dramatically in the years following the change. This is most likely because drivers get used to using the roundabouts.
Why these studies are important
Not only do the number of traffic accidents decrease by 7-9% year over year, but the best news is also that the accidents that do occur are less severe in nature. Traffic fatalities decreased by a whopping 90% and accidents involving injuries to the driver or passengers dropped by 75%. Collisions with pedestrians also decreased by 40%. Researchers surmise that this drop in the most serious kinds of crashes is due to the fact that the nature of the roundabout’s shape all but eliminates head-on, or sharp right or left-angle crashes.
The IIHS conducted this research from 2009-2015 in conjunction with the Washington Department of Transportation. Washington has approximately 300 roundabouts. The study focused on 98 single-lane roundabouts and 29 two-lane roundabouts. The results were normalized by traffic volume, unemployment, and miles driven to produce the results.
Can you imagine a world without stoplights? If Washington state is any indication, Pennsylvania drivers might find themselves navigating their way through roundabouts as the next measure to increase roadway safety.