Recently, I heard on a local radio station that yet more roundabouts (a.k.a. traffic circles) are planned in my area. The broadcast mentioned that roundabouts keep traffic moving and have been found to be significantly safer than regular intersections. While I do not doubt this is true, I do believe there is one enormous, glaring, omission from the end of the statement… that being, “when all drivers on the road know how to navigate a roundabout properly.” The truth is, I learned this when I lived in England for nearly four years, but not everyone has had such initiation into roundabout circumnavigation. My guess is that most people think of Clark Griswold and his European Vacation.
I’d posit that, when introducing new traffic patterns, especially for safety purposes, a large-scale public education campaign should be launched prior to installing said new traffic patterns. Instead, Wake County, is not only installing more roundabouts without much public information on how to use them (if any, as I’ve yet to find or see any), but they are also setting school bus stops on the roundabouts! So, all I can surmise is that, perhaps, the County doesn’t quite grasp how the whole thing works, either.
In pursuit of something worthwhile to share, I found a helpful guide on navigating roundabouts at Wisconsin’s DOT website. These are really good instructions, without being confusing. They include the basics: yield to traffic already on the roundabout; keep moving on the roundabout; signal as you approach your exit.
Truthfully, roundabouts should make things move better and add to safety in my area, but we definitely need to educate drivers. Almost none of the drivers I have seen on roundabouts deal with them as they should. So far, I’ve seen only one or two cars signal. Ever. I have one I go through four times a day, taking my kids to and from preschool, so I get to see quite a bit of faulty roundabout driving. Last week, I saw a car parked on that roundabout. Most disturbing, I’ve seen people who wish to turn left actually go left around the circle – yikes! It’s simply scary! I worry about that bus stop – it’s on the roundabout I use most. So today, Ive let the appropriate people in Wake County know that it really ought to be rectified by emailing the Wake County Public School Transportation Department. If I get a response, I’ll update on what is said.
I sorry to get all serious here, but please, if you are a driver, review how to safely go around a roundabout, using the link above. Tell other drivers you know that there are rules that make roundabouts work. Thank you and safe travels!