Drivers in Florida rarely encounter roundabouts or traffic circles, but they are extremely popular in other parts of the world. Developed in the 1960s in the United Kingdom, roundabouts became the preferred traffic management solution in Europe because they keep traffic moving, slow vehicles down and prevent accidents. The first roundabouts in the United States were installed in Nevada in 1990, but they are still quite rare in most other states.
Roundabouts improve road safety
Roundabouts are usually installed at accident hotspots because they prevent serious motor vehicle accidents. When intersections are controlled by traffic lights or stop signs, vehicles can be involved in head-on or T-bone accidents that take place at high speeds and cause debilitating injuries. When roundabouts are installed, these accidents are avoided because all vehicles travel much more slowly and in the same direction. Researchers have discovered that replacing traditional intersections with roundabouts reduces the number of accidents that cause injuries by up to 87%.
Roundabout first policies
These road safety benefits have prompted states including New York and Virginia to adopt policies that require traffic planners to install roundabouts whenever possible when intersections must be built or upgraded. Roundabouts have not become common in other parts of the country because drivers do not like them, but studies have revealed that motorists change their views fairly quickly when they use roundabouts and become familiar with them.
Pedestrian safety and clean air
Roundabouts can be baffling to motorists who are used to stop signs and traffic lights, but studies show that they prevent accidents and injuries. Researchers have also found that drivers become accustomed to roundabouts quickly and soon come to appreciate the way they keep traffic moving. Roundabouts also reduce idling, which improves air quality, and make it easier for pedestrians to navigate busy intersections.