Pros and Cons of Roundabouts

April 4, 2012 — 4,150 views  
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Roundabouts can be a reliable addition to roadway infrastructure in a community, providing the necessary direction for drivers at a somewhat complex intersection. However, they can lead to some risks for pedestrians on foot, and as such should be designed with care.

A research report prepared at the University of Tennessee Knoxville makes note of the two sides to the roundabout debate. Specifically, while modern roundabouts have been documented as being safer to foot travelers than standard intersections, their overall effect on safety remains somewhat unclear.

It also points out that roundabouts are considerably more common internationally than in the United States, which may have led to any initial difficulties among American drivers and pedestrians. Arguably, the clearest benefit of a roundabout is driver safety, and the positive nature of that cannot be underplayed. 

One solution to ensure that roundabouts are as safe as possible is to significantly reduce the speed limit, as a slight reduction somewhat defeats the purpose. Additionally, public works professionals may want to implement new roundabouts that will have fewer traffic lanes than the intersections they replace for a notable decrease in pedestrian accidents.