Are Roundabouts Safer than Intersections?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle February 13 2023 3:57 pm

Are Roundabouts Safer than Intersections?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle February 13 2023 3:57 pm
Are Roundabouts Safer than Intersections?

As an alternative to traffic lights and stop signs, roundabouts reduce the risk of accidents. The tight circle of a roundabout slows the driver. Therefore, the three most dangerous intersection crashes–right-angle, left-turn, and head-on collisions–are notably reduced.

In addition, because of the flow of traffic, pollution and congestion decrease. Less idling means fewer pollutants and less money paid for fuel.

Generally, pedestrians are safe in roundabouts, as traffic goes in one direction when people cross. Because the crossing distances are shorter, driving speeds are reduced.


Defining the Roundabout

As a circular intersection with safety and efficiency features, the modern roundabout has become increasingly popular. Its origins can be traced back to the 1960s when it was developed and introduced in the UK. Today, it is widely used in many countries, including the United States.

In the U.S., vehicles use a counterclockwise pattern around a raised center island when entering and exiting roundabouts. The oncoming traffic yields to the traffic already there. 

Entering vehicles in urban areas negotiate a sharp curve, which reduces their speed to about 15 to 20 miles per hour.

In rural locations, cars travel at a slightly higher speed (about 30 to 35 mph). In either case, the traffic remains slower and more stable. 


More About Roundabout Safety

Roundabouts make it easier to maintain an efficient and safer traffic flow in and out of an area. As drivers approach the roundabout, they are forced to slow down, keeping an eye out for possible collisions with other cars in the circle. 

They also need to reduce their speed when watching for cyclists and pedestrians. Autos can then take the proper exits with more ease inside the circle.

As noted, collisions at right angles, left turns, and head-on are typical at traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals. 

Generally, vehicles move at a higher speed through intersections. Therefore, these types of collisions can cause significant damage.

The lower speeds and uniform traffic flow in a roundabout reduce the risk of serious accidents.

When accidents do take place, they typically happen when a car enters the roundabout from a side street. Mishaps in multi-lane roundabouts typically occur during exiting.


What the Studies Reveal

U.S. studies of intersections, and where roundabouts replaced intersections with stop signs and traffic signals, showed a major reduction in crashes with injuries (38%) and a significant reduction in all vehicle crashes (76%). Collisions that led to fatalities were reduced by as much as 90%.

Severe accidents, according to reports from Europe and Australia, were lowered by 45% to 75%.

Studies related to roundabouts in the U.S. have been directed mainly to single-lane structures. Two-lane roundabouts have had smaller reductions in collisions when compared to single-lane roundabouts.

That’s because pedestrians find it more difficult to cross in a multi-lane roundabout. Research shows that drivers fail to yield to pedestrians more often in multi-lane roundabouts. 

Also, drivers leaving a roundabout are less prone to yield to pedestrians than motorists entering a roundabout. 

Investigators reviewing roundabout safety in the U.S. found that the most common types of collisions involved entering-circulating, exiting-circulating, and rear-end crashes. 

Again, most accidents in single-lane roundabouts involved entering-circulating collisions, while exiting-circulating crashes made up most of the collisions in multi-lane roundabouts.


Call a Personal Injury Attorney in Kansas About Your Car Accident Claim

If you live in Kansas and have been involved in an auto accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney about your car accident claim. You have the right to file a claim if you’re 50% or less at fault. Contact Pyle Law at 620-241-9000 to schedule a free consultation today.


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Pyle Law was founded in 1999 with a commitment to fewer clients and better service. We believe that each and every client is important and everyone is entitled to justice and equal protection under our laws. We make every case a priority and are committed to keeping each client informed about the status of their case. We do not guarantee results, but we do guarantee effort.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney E. Thomas Pyle who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing personal injury trial attorney.