There has been an uptick in the installation of roundabouts throughout Pennsylvania, especially in York. PennDOT has conducted studies on the impact of installing roundabouts. They found it has led to a reduction in car accidents.
Car accidents are still possible but happen less often in roundabouts than in York’s other intersections and traffic circles. If you are involved in an accident, discussing your options with a York car accident attorney is best.
The basics of roundabouts
The premise of the roundabout is to promote a low-speed alternative to using intersections. Speed limits are between 20 and 30 mph. By design, roundabouts prevent left angle and T-bone collisions. Accidents are possible but often at lower angles and speeds, which typically result in less severe injuries and consequences than other crashes.
The yield of entry is also something of note since it requires that drivers look at traffic from their left when they enter the roundabout. That also means the driver does not have to constantly look back and forth or run into an unexpected car. When entering the roundabout, drivers can find a gap and enter without stopping. You do not have to stop or yield when exiting a roundabout.
Safety features for roundabouts
You may have seen roundabout installations throughout the county. The biggest reason for this is safety. Transportation agencies are justifying the increase in roundabouts by focusing on safety features. While traditional intersections have 31 potential conflict points, roundabouts have eight. There is a substantial difference in the possible impact points, leading various agencies to crown roundabouts as safer.
The Federal Highway Administration reports crashes involving severe injuries or death decreased by 90% and a 44% decrease in crashes overall in roundabouts. The findings are similar when a roundabout replaces an intersection, with a 48% crash reduction and an 80% reduction in severe bodily injury or death.
Often, people confuse traffic circles and roundabouts. While they can seem similar, there are some stark differences. A traffic circle is larger, which can lead to higher speeds. Roundabouts have smaller diameters, so they encourage cars to go at lower speeds. They also have slower entry speeds and more yield points than traffic circles. Weaving is nearly nonexistent in roundabouts.
Traffic in roundabouts
Another benefit to roundabouts is the way they move traffic efficiently. Since there is no need for stops, there are fewer delays. That means more cars can use the road, and there will also be less fuel consumption. Sometimes, larger vehicles can use truck aprons in the roundabout. There are areas in the central island that are mountable by semi-trucks and other large vehicles. Passenger vehicles cannot use or access these areas.
While studies show the benefits of roundabouts, the general public is not keen on using them. This can be attributed to a lack of education about them. In some areas, they are also a new form of traffic control, which can lead to some confusion. In most instances, public opinion changes after a year of use.
It can be intimidating to enter a roundabout for the first time, but drivers quickly adapt to the traffic pattern. Drivers can usually adapt quickly when there is proper signage and road striping. Even so, collisions are possible. If you are in a crash, speak to a York car accident lawyer.
How you should approach a roundabout
When approaching a roundabout, slow down and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. At the yield line, check for oncoming traffic from the left. Traffic in the roundabout has the right of way. When there is a gap, enter the roundabout.
Once you are in the roundabout, drive until you reach your exit point. Use your turn signal as you approach to prepare drivers behind you. Look for pedestrians and exit the roundabout. Those are the basic steps for navigating a roundabout in York, PA.
Left turns are dangerous
Roundabouts eliminate left turns, and there is a science behind that decision. Left-hand turns can increase the chances that you will be in an accident. They require drivers to drive across several lanes at once. It also means drivers must pay attention to traffic from multiple directions while turning. Mistakes can happen during left turns. By eliminating left turns, roundabouts only have right turns. This means that drivers only have to pay attention to one traffic flow.
Right of way is more straightforward
Another issue that plagues car accidents is right-of-way violations. There is often contention around who had the right of way during a collision. Roundabouts can decrease some of these issues. Roundabouts are one-way traffic control areas, so all a driver can do is merge or turn right. This leads to fewer right-of-way violations.
Roundabouts have substantial benefits and can be confusing for some drivers. Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation show a significant decrease in car accidents. Researchers focused on data involving 36 single-lane and six multi-lane roundabouts. These areas previously used signals and stop signs. The data covers the years between 2003 and 2022.
Some of the most notable findings are that serious injuries decreased by 24%, with non-serious injuries dropping by 51%. This led to an overall decrease in crashes by 3%. PennDOT plans to implement more throughout the state based on the positive statistics and feedback they have received regarding roundabouts.
While roundabouts have many benefits, car accidents can still happen. You could sustain injuries and property damage. There can be some confusion about liability and fault when an accident happens in a roundabout. However, KBG Injury Law is here to help you understand your rights. Our local car accident attorneys have lived in the area most of their lives and are familiar with the roads and struggles drivers have in roundabouts. Call KBG Injury Law or submit our contact form for an initial free consultation today. We serve all of South Central Pennsylvania.
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.