Roundabouts (also known as traffic circles or rotaries) are supposed to make drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians safer as they travel through an intersection. By eliminating stop signs and/or red lights, they eliminate the start-and-stop traffic that could cause accidents. With a smooth, flowing traffic pattern, these roundabouts also do away with the risk of people running red lights or failing to yield as they make a left-hand turn.
Over the past few years, the North Dakota Department of Transportation installed quite a few roundabouts on highways throughout the state, including one in Minot on 13th St SW. We wonder if we will see more, though; in 2021, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) followed the implementation of roundabouts in an Indianapolis suburb nicknamed “Roundabout City.” With their population more than tripling in the last few decades, the mayor wanted to ensure that their roads were safe for the influx of drivers. The town of Carmel, Indiana now is known as the city with the most roundabouts in the United States, with more than 100 of them. When comparing crash stats from roundabouts to similar conventional intersections nearby, they found that roundabouts actually reduced the number of injury-related crashes by 47%.
Even more remarkable, implementing a double-teardrop roundabout had greater results. When compared to crash stats from the same intersection before this roundabout was created, total crashes dropped by 63% while crashes that resulted in injury dropped by an incredible 84%.
Why do roundabouts work?
Because they are circular intersections, IIHS says, roundabouts actually decrease some of the most severe accidents, like right-angle, left-angle, and head-on crashes. Road traffic in this type of intersection slowly flows in one direction as cars enter, circulate, and exit, so no true left or right turns are required – cars only need to merge.
For drivers, it is a no-brainer that this type of intersection puts them less at risk of getting into an accident, especially in busy areas. Gently merging and going around a circle at a reduced speed to get across the road is significantly less difficult and nerve-wracking than managing a 4-way stop where not everyone respects the rules of the road. For pedestrians, roundabouts make it much easier for them to cross the street – all they have to do is walk around the circle while managing to safely cross a single lane of traffic at a time. While no one’s guard should ever be fully down, the installation of these roundabouts should put everyone a little more at ease while navigating busy intersections.
Unfortunately, roundabouts are not foolproof
While rotaries are designed to be safer than standard intersections, it does not mean accidents will never happen. A driver could very well cause a collision if they fail to yield while entering the circle, for example. And with so many merge points, the risk of that happening goes up with each entrance.
As with any intersection, and driving in general, driver hesitation could cause accidents as well. The IIHS found that hesitating to merge onto the circle or hesitating while entering and exiting roundabouts accounted for most crashes at this type of intersection.
Accidents are also more likely in roundabouts that have more than one lane. Even with signage, drivers can often get confused about who has the right of way. Per IIHS, a study conducted at two different roundabout accident locations determined that over 40% of people said the signs and pavement markings did not give clear enough direction on speed or right of way, which was part of what caused the accident. That, combined with hesitation, is a recipe for disaster.
What to do if you are hit by another vehicle in a traffic circle in Minot
Because accidents do happen and roundabouts do not always have the clearest signs posted, it is important to know what to do if there is a collision in North Dakota. If you get into an accident at a roundabout in Minot, make sure to follow these steps:
- Seek medical attention. If you get hurt, make sure to get medical treatment immediately. Doctors will create detailed medical records that will help you fight for compensation if you choose to pursue legal action for your pain and suffering later.
- Call and report the accident. The police will document the collision as well as any damage done to your car, which will be incredibly helpful when it comes to repairing the damage. The police may also indicate who was at fault for the accident, but this is a double-edged sword. (We can assist in this regard.)
- Exchange information with the other driver. Make sure to get their name, license plate number, and insurance policy.
- Take pictures. Document the accident yourself and take pictures of damage to both cars and any signage (or lack thereof) for your own records.
- Reach out to an attorney. If you get hurt and want to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your accident, make sure to call an experienced Minot car accident attorney who can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
- File a claim. Once you have done everything above, you may want to file a claim with your car insurance company. We will work directly with the insurance companies in the event of a crash where you are injured.
Roundabouts, statistically, decrease car accidents – but they don’t eliminate them entirely. If you or a loved one were injured in a traffic circle accident, Larson Law Firm P.C. can help. Call our car accident lawyers in Minot, Bismarck, or Fargo at 701-484-HURT, or fill out our contact form and schedule your free consultation.