Experience you can trust – a local practice reaching back five generations
Photo of William H. Wilhoit

Study Finds That Roundabouts Greatly Reduce Road Deaths

The number of Kentucky residents killed in automobile accidents each year could be significantly reduced if conventional intersections were replaced with roundabouts, according to a recently published study. Researchers from the Minnesota Department of Transportation compared the number of fatal and property accidents that took place at 144 junctions in the state both before and after roundabouts were built, and they found that replacing stop signs and traffic lights with traffic circles reduced fatalities by an overwhelming 86 percent.

The results of the MnDOT study, which was published on Oct. 30, will likely come as no surprise to road safety advocates. Intersection accidents often involve high-speed T-bone collisions where the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another, but roundabouts eliminate this type of crash because vehicles all travel in the same direction. Drivers must also slow down before entering a roundabout.

However, the study also reveals that building roundabouts leads to a surge in minor car accidents. Property crashes increased by over 200 percent when complex intersections were replaced by roundabouts with two circulating lanes at each approach, but experts believe that this is largely due to motorists being unfamiliar with traffic circles. In addition to confusing drivers, roundabouts have been criticized for being more dangerous for pedestrians and being difficult for large vehicles to navigate.

Most motor vehicle accidents involve human error of one type or another. When reckless drivers cause injury, loss or damage to other road users, attorneys may pursue civil remedies on their behalf. Establishing liability in this kind of litigation is not always straightforward, and claims of comparative negligence are common. However, experienced attorneys may anticipate these arguments and study police reports carefully for information that could be used to refute them.