Traffic Circles Can Be Tricky the First Time Around

by | Feb 5, 2015

Roundabouts can be especially confusing for people when they are new or when motorists are unfamiliar with them, and their appearance across Tennessee over the past two decades has led to a decrease in traffic fatalities but an increase in accidents overall. Motorists should understand how to safely navigate through roundabouts so they can reduce their risk of car accidents. By observing basic rules for roundabouts, motorists may safely get through them without issues.

Roundabout Accidents

A study of more than 300 roundabouts in Wisconsin found that the intersections that were formerly controlled by traffic signals but had been turned into roundabouts showed a 38 percent drop in traffic fatalities and injuries. However, these locations also experienced an increase of 12 percent in accidents overall. Many of these accidents were caused by drivers who were inexperienced or confused by the roundabouts. Between 30 and 50 percent of all accidents in roundabouts in the U.S. were single-vehicle accidents. Of the single-vehicle accidents in roundabouts, one-third resulted from bad weather and 19 percent were caused by drunk or impaired driving.

Safe Roundabout Navigation

To reduce the risk for traffic circle crashes, drivers should familiarize themselves with safe roundabout navigation.

  • When people approach roundabouts, they should yield to traffic in all of the lanes of the roundabout and only enter when they have adequate clearance. Motorists who are already inside of the roundabouts have the right of way, and motorists who are at entry points must yield to them.
  • Large trucks may have to take up parts of two lanes or use the concrete in the center of the roundabout to make it safely through them. Other drivers should not try to jockey for position with a large truck in a roundabout. A good rule of thumb is to yield to all large trucks inside of roundabouts.
  • People should pay attention to signs that show the lanes that they should get into when they enter the roundabouts and slow down as they approach.
  • Finally, drivers should not try to speed through roundabouts so that they can avoid going off the road.