Roundabouts are designed to improve the flow of traffic, but they can also result in car accidents. According to some estimates, there are over 8,000 roundabouts in the U.S. The design of the roundabouts allows the vehicle to only move in one direction once they enter the traffic circle. Generally, the drivers inside the roundabout have the right of way; however, many drivers are unaware of the traffic and driving rules for roundabouts. On this page, we have highlighted some of the benefits of roundabouts, common causes of accidents in roundabouts, and how an attorney from Mountain States Injury Law can help you with a roundabout accident claim.
The Benefits of Roundabouts
- The risk of a head-on collision on the road is minimized due to the one-way roundabout design.
- The circular design means the drivers may find it more difficult to speed, which is one of the top causes of road accidents.
- Compared to traffic signals, roundabouts are more fuel-efficient for the vehicle.
- The chances of motorists getting into a severe, incapacitating accident are reduced due to the design of this intersection.
- There are no stops or signals, which means the traffic flows without delay.
- A roundabout intersection would not cease to operate during power outages.
- A circular intersection is more spacious than a regular intersection, allowing vehicles to cross paths without colliding.
Roundabout Traffic Laws
A roundabout is not a controlled intersection; rather, it has various yield signs and pavement markings to help drivers navigate counterclockwise around the central island. The point of this intersection is to eliminate any sharp turns which could lead to accidents. A roundabout also maximizes pedestrian safety because drivers are often forced to drive at lower speeds due to the circular design of the roundabouts.
If you are driving through a single-lane roundabout, the correct way is to approach the intersection and yield to any pedestrians you see crossing the road. Enter the intersection when there is a gap between the traffic, and do not stop when driving through the roundabout. When you are about to exit the junction, use your indicators to alert the other drivers.
When driving through a multi-lane roundabout, ensure that you do not cut a lane or drive on the outer side of the lane. This could lead to a road accident. Follow the pavement markings and choose the lane which leads to your desired exit. You must yield to the ongoing traffic and pedestrians on the road.
Most cyclists prefer to dismount their bicycles and walk on the crosswalk to exit the intersection. This is the safer option, but if you choose to ride through the intersection, you must obey all roundabout traffic rules and yield to any pedestrians or vehicles already present in the roundabout.
If a person is walking through the intersection, they should use the pedestrian crosswalk. Although pedestrians and the ongoing traffic at a roundabout always have the right of way, assuming the right of way could put the pedestrian’s life in danger. Always stop to ensure the incoming vehicle gives you the right of way.
Common Types of Roundabout Car Accidents
Run-Off Road Accidents
A run-off road is a single-vehicle collision. In the accident, the incoming vehicle causes the vehicle driving on the lane to maneuver off-road and get into an accident. These accidents are common in roundabouts when people cut lanes to get ahead.
A rear-end collision is when a distracted or speeding driver hits your vehicle from behind. In some cases, the vehicle in front might suddenly stop, which is prohibited on circular intersections, leading to an accident.
A sideswipe accident is when two vehicles driving parallel to each other make contact. It could be that either one of the drivers wants to cut lanes to exit the roundabout without using their indicators.
Collision When Merging or Exiting the Lane
This type of car accident happens when a driver does not follow proper driving procedures when merging or exiting the lane in a roundabout. This can result in minor to major road accidents depending on the speed and impact of the vehicle.
Causes of Roundabout Accidents
In most states, drivers are not to exceed the speed limit of 15-20 miles per hour while they are driving through any circular intersection. It does not take too long to drive through the intersection, and speeding may not give you enough time to slow down and yield to any incoming traffic. Speeding in roundabouts can endanger pedestrians using the crosswalk and vehicles in parallel lanes.
No vehicle that enters the roundabout is allowed to stop around the central island. This can cause rear-end collisions and, in rare cases, severe accidents. Not complying with this roundabout traffic rule might get you into trouble.
While circular junctions are mostly uncontrolled areas, they still include pavement marking and traffic signs that indicate which lane should be used by the incoming traffic. If you choose the right lane, you will not require cutting lanes to exit the roundabout. In cases where you have to cut the lane to exit the intersection, always give the right of way to the incoming traffic and use indicators to alert the other drivers.
Pedestrians and cyclists using the intersections can get into severe accidents if drivers do not comply with the roundabout traffic rules. Give pedestrians the right of way and yield to any vehicle already in the intersection.
Poor Driving Habits
Some drivers ignore trucks and larger vehicles in parallel lanes and do not give the right of way to any emergency vehicles using the roundabout. It is against the roundabout traffic rules to try and pass larger vehicles such as trucks or not give them sufficient space to drive. All drivers should give the right of way to any emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance.
Why Hire a Roundabout Accident Attorney?
Establishing liability in a roundabout accident can be challenging, especially without evidence. If you or your loved one has had a roundabout accident, you should consider hiring an attorney who is well-versed in traffic laws and car accident claims.
A car accident attorney from Mountain States Injury Law can help you gather evidence and get full and fair compensation for your financial and non-financial damages in the car accident. This includes lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.