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Are roundabouts really better than traffic lights?

Roundabouts have become an increasingly common sight in Butler, Pennsylvania, in recent years. Currently, there are dozens of them in place along its urban and rural roadways. If you are like many motorists, though, you may find these areas confusing and difficult to navigate. 

When the county began installing roundabouts as alternatives to stops signs or traffic lights, some residents had concerns. Many wondered whether navigating roundabouts was actually safer than navigating signaled intersections. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers evidence as to why roundabouts are safer than signaled intersections. 

Reasons roundabouts are safer than traffic lights

There are several key reasons you are less likely to find yourself involved in a serious accident at a roundabout than at a signaled intersection. For starters, the nature of the roundabout design requires drivers to slow down. Crashes that occur at low speeds are often less severe and less likely to prove fatal than they would otherwise. 

Many wrecks that occur at signaled intersections also involve left-turn or head-on collisions. These types of crashes are unlikely to occur in traffic circles. 

Statistics about the safety of roundabouts

Many studies have shown that roundabouts are safer to navigate than signaled intersections. Research shows that communities that install roundabouts, rather than stop signs or traffic lights, see the number of crashes involving injuries decrease by between 72% and 80%. Installing roundabouts, rather than alternatives, also reduced all crashes by between 35% and 47%. 

Studies also show roundabouts may reduce pedestrian-involved crashes by 75%. Regardless of the public mood, the numbers suggest that traffic circles are not only safer for drivers but for the community as a whole. 

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