How to Safely Use a Roundabout

by NPHM | June 29th, 2020

Roundabouts are touted as a more efficient way to handle intersections than typical four-way stops that use stop signs or traffic lights. Widespread in Europe, roundabouts were also popular in the U.S. in the early 20th century, but were eventually replaced by “modern” intersections in many cities.

In recent years, roundabouts have started making a comeback in Ohio and other states, but many drivers are unsure how to use them safely. When used properly, roundabouts can actually be more efficient, faster, and safer than traditional intersections, as they involve less waiting, no chance of running red lights or stop signs, and a smoother flow of traffic.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, roundabouts have nearly 50% fewer crashes and 60%-78% fewer fatal crashes compared to intersections that use traffic signals. Unfortunately, not all drivers are familiar with them, and all it takes is one driver using a roundabout improperly to cause a dangerous situation or an accident.

Roundabouts Don’t Have to be Confusing—Use This Infographic if You Need Help!

If you’ve never driven through a roundabout before, or if you only use them sporadically, you may be a little unsure of how to proceed when you approach one. There’s no question that roundabouts are unfamiliar for many Americans, especially when they are newly installed in areas that were previously serviced by traditional intersections.

The infographic below can help you more safely and efficiently navigate roundabouts, whether they’re in Ohio, other parts of the country, or even abroad:

What’s the Difference Between a Roundabout and a Traffic Circle?

Roundabouts and traffic circles appear similar at first glance, and both are used to control the flow of traffic. But they have a few important differences, including:

  • The way vehicles enter—In roundabouts, drivers should slow down and yield to vehicles already in the roundabouts. In traffic circles, drivers may not enter them until they get a traffic signal or come to a complete stop.
  • Right of way for entering vehicles—In roundabouts, drivers can continue to proceed through roundabouts without accommodating drivers who want to enter. In traffic circles, drivers often must stop for entering drivers, which can result in traffic delays.
  • The speed at which vehicles can travel—Roundabouts typically feature tight turns, which results in low speed limits, often maxing out at around 30 MPH. Traffic circles have larger diameters and often feature much higher speed limits.
  • The ability to change lanes—In roundabouts, drivers shouldn’t change lanes unless exiting multilane roundabouts. In traffic circles, drivers can change lanes, even when driving at high speeds.

Traffic circles are much rarer in the U.S. than roundabouts, but it’s important to recognize the differences between these traffic control measures in case you encounter one. In addition, always read signs when approaching roundabouts or traffic circles, including speed limit signs, restriction signs, and street signs, so you’ll know where you need to exit to get to your destination.

Hurt in a Roundabout by a Negligent Driver? We’re Here to Help.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio car accident attorneys know that following traffic laws is the best way to stay safe on the state’s roadways. And while unfamiliarity and discomfort with using a roundabout is common among drivers, especially in America, ignorance of the law or lack of experience aren’t valid excuses for causing a crash.

If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident in a roundabout, you may be eligible for compensation, especially if the other driver was speeding, stopped, changed lanes improperly, or failed to yield when entering. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 216-621-2300. We’ll review the facts of what happened and work towards building a claim that will get you paid.