The Post ran a story this week about a particularly dangerous intersection in The Acreage. Among all the solutions being proposed — traffic signals, rumble strips, etc. – roundabouts were not mentioned in the article.
I’m not a traffic engineer. But the safety benefits of roundabouts are so apparent that it’s a wonder this is not the default approach to intersections, rather than the oddity it is in the United States. Roundabouts improve safety:
- More than 90% reduction in fatalities*
- 76% reduction in injuries**
- 35% reduction in all crashes**
- Slower speeds are generally safer for pedestrians
They also cost relatively the same amount to build as a signalized intersection, but require much less maintenance and repair work. Roundabouts also maintain traffic flow at a slower pace instead of stop and go traffic, with benefits to the environment and improvements to the quality of the public space adjacent to the road. But public officials don’t seem to even consider this as an option in the toolbox.
From the Post:
The county, with assistance from Indian Trail, is studying Hall and Northlake to see whether traffic volumes meet federal benchmarks for a traffic signal or other device. A public workshop is expected in April or May to explore any viable solutions.
Too often, we make policy choices around ‘meeting the standard’, or getting an infusion of cash from another government entity (federal or state). How about we make policy choices based on lives?
[Note: We’re using the hashtag “#dangerousbydesign” in social media to emphasize that traffic deaths are not inevitable, and that we must demand better. Google ‘vision zero’ to learn more about a better way.]