Municipalities in Wisconsin and elsewhere have a strong interest in promoting public safety and regularly study ways to improve conditions for their residents. In the regular course of daily business, traffic accidents are the most common source of property damage and injury to individuals. Most efforts to reduce accidents focus on enforcement of traffic laws, adding more traffic lights and stop signs, or lowering speed limits in certain areas. However, replacing traditional intersections with roundabouts may be a way to dramatically improve safety while at the same time providing other benefits.
A roundabout is a circular traffic intersection where the roads cross at ninety-degree angles. Traffic flows circularly in a counterclockwise direction around a center, circular island. There are no stop signs or signals, and drivers enter the roundabout after yielding to any traffic already in the circle. Although many drivers are initially confused by their first few encounters with roundabouts, traffic safety studies have shown a significant reduction in the numbers of accidents and the severity of accidents when they are compared to traditional intersections.
The reason for the dramatic change is attributed to the fact that vehicles in the roundabout are all going in the same direction and are moving slower than they would be when traversing a traditional intersection. There are no head-on, right angle or T-bone collisions in roundabouts. More typical is a low speed, rear-end collision, but even these are minimized due to slower speeds. Additional benefits include greater capacity for the number of vehicles that a roundabout can handle and a fuel savings and pollution reduction from not having cars idle at traffic lights waiting for the green.
Ultimately, however, driver safety depends on the individual driver. If a driver acts unreasonably or negligently causing injury or damage to another, the negligent driver may be liable. A personal injury lawyer can explain the legal issues regarding motor vehicle accidents.