Many of us were raised in a rural area, live in rural areas, or drive through rural areas of our country, and have almost not stopped at the random stop signs. We also know of many, and I do mean many, people who have been killed by someone running those random stop signs. Roundabouts save lives, and this has been proven through many stats. They can be a pain to maneuver with any vehicle from a compact car, a straight truck, to a tractor-trailer, but the hassle is worth it.
I read several articles about roundabouts, and all of them talk about saving the lives of motorists. There are accidents in traffic circles, but they are usually not deadly. Most significantly, roundabouts REDUCE the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by 78-82% when compared to conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections, per the AASHTO Highway Safety Manual.
Most traffic circles/roundabouts have a raised section called the truck apron that is specifically made for trailers, straight trucks, and busses. Regular vehicles are encouraged not to use the apron.
Roundabouts keep traffic flowing, and I know of one truck stop in Louisiana that has to have seen their profit increase due to the roundabout. Leaving this truck stop meant a left turn across an extremely busy road. Too often, drivers would get tired of waiting and would bulldoze their way into the center median to get into the lane of traffic. Now with the traffic circles, the trucks turn right out of the truck stop and go around the traffic circle and head back to the interstate. Leaving this truck stop is so much easier and faster than it has ever been.
Roundabouts are appropriate at many intersections, including high-crash locations and intersections with large traffic delays, complex geometry (more than four approach roads, for example), frequent left-turn movements, and relatively balanced traffic flows. Roundabouts can be constructed along congested arterials and at freeway exits and entrances, in lieu of traffic signals.
Learn to use roundabouts correctly and know they might have just saved your life. I look at them as a personal challenge to get through them successfully and at a steady pace.
*Update to this blog post as I almost ended a lady’s life. We were on a two-lane road out in the agriculture area of California and I was about two miles from the city running 55 mph. I could see the intersection ahead and two stopped vehicles at the stop signs. As I approached the intersection I saw that there was a stopped vehicle to my left and a stopped car to my right with a truck behind that car. For some reason, my eyes were watching that car, and sure as heck, she starts to go as I enter the intersection. Maybe the sound of the truck reached her ears as I applied my brakes hard and the same time yelling out to Bob to hang on. Half of her car was in the intersection when she stopped and I skimmed by the front bumper of her car. There is not a doubt in my mind if she would have continued on I would have hit her in the driver side door. My heart was racing and after I calmed back down and continued to our delivery I was sure wishing they would place a roundabout there.