Roundabouts, or traffic circles (as they’re sometimes called), can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially if you’re not used to them. However, the United States has begun to replace many intersections throughout the nation (including Texas) with these European-style circular designs. According to extensive research and traffic data taken from around the world, roundabouts decrease intersection collisions while increasing traffic efficiency.
This idea is wonderful in theory, however, confusion and lack of education on how to use roundabouts can make them as dangerous as normal intersections. Although signs and markings are prevalent when approaching these circles, many drivers will make the same mistakes over and over again until they cause a car crash.
Common Roundabout Errors That Put You At Risk
Federal Highway Administration research shows that roundabouts decrease intersection traffic injuries by nearly 90 percent. However, when drivers are confused, not paying attention to road signs, or otherwise driving recklessly, tragic accidents can and will result. The three most common errors made by drivers in roundabouts are:
Yield signs are posted at roundabouts to remind motorists who has the right of way. When entering a roundabout, you must yield to any traffic that is already in the circle, as they have the right of way. Ignoring these signs, or thinking you can get ahead by speeding up rather than slowing down, is extremely dangerous.
Braking while in the circle.
Roundabouts are designed so that traffic can flow continuously. When you suddenly stop, you can cause serious consequences. If you become confused and miss your turn off, don’t stop! Instead, continue around the circle in order to get you bearings and find your exit. If you slam on your brakes, you could cause the car behind you to rear end you.
Mid-circle lane changes.
Since roundabouts are circles, lanes break off around the edges and veer in different directions depending on where you need to go. The entire purpose of a roundabout is to limit the need for traffic to cross by allowing cars to smoothly enter and exit without needing to stop and turn. In order to keep traffic from crossing each other, lane markings are clearly indicated before roundabout entrances. These markings allow you to make sure you enter in the correct lane for your eventual exit. If you enter in the wrong lane, you unfortunately need to follow it through. This means that you’ll either have to take the wrong exit and turn around or continue around the circle until you once again approach your exit and can legally follow your lane through it.
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