Atlanta has gained a reputation for its heavy traffic. According to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, Atlanta ranks in the top 10 among the most congested cities in the United States. Roundabouts are being considered as a way to ease traffic flow and increase traffic safety.
What is a roundabout?
A roundabout is an alternative to stop signs, traffic lights and traditional intersections. With a roundabout, the design is circular or a junction. The traffic moves counterclockwise around a center section.
Motor vehicle accidents commonly occur at intersections. The belief is that a roundabout forces drivers to slow down, pay attention to what they’re doing and proceed with caution. Some motor vehicle accidents, such as head-on collisions and crashes caused by turns, are less likely to occur.
Good for pedestrians
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that roundabouts are safer for pedestrians. Pedestrians walk on the outside of the roundabout. When it’s time to cross the street, pedestrians face on-coming traffic from one direction at a time. Research shows this is safer, as crossing distances are short and traffic is moving slower.
Roundabouts in the United States
The first roundabout was created in the United Kingdom in 1956. In 1966, the idea became widespread as more European countries and Australia built more roundabouts.
The United States has been slow to warm up to the roundabout idea. The first roundabout in America was built in Nevada in 1990. And as of 2023, it’s estimated that the United States has about 9,000 roundabouts.
Expect more roundabouts in the United States as their safety becomes more widely known. Research shows that intersections converted into roundabouts have fewer injuries and fewer accidents.