When some drivers enter a roundabout, their stress level begins to elevate the same as any situation in which their safety is dependent on rules that are unfamiliar. Even for some drivers who are familiar with the rules of a roundabout, their stress level may begin to rise because of the recklessness of other drivers who are either unfamiliar with the rules or unwilling to follow them.
Unfamiliarity with the rules of the road could lead to a car accident. Stressing or worrying about other drivers who are unfamiliar with the rules or simply do not care about the rules could cause an accident. A roundabout seems to check all the boxes.
Although roundabouts may have distinct advantages, including reducing serious traffic accidents, compared with busy four-way intersections, too many drivers find that the unfamiliarity of these circular anomalies only increases the chances of being involved in a traffic accident, albeit a minor one.
Most drivers know the basic rules of intersections with traffic lights or four-way stop signs, but the occasional roundabout, with its challenging scheme that almost seems as though it were asking you to enter at your own risk, is unfamiliar to too many drivers. It is, therefore, important that motorists take a closer look at the rules, risks, and tips to keep the safe in the event they should enter one.
What Exactly Qualifies as a Roundabout?
A roundabout is unmistakable, and if you have driven long enough or far enough, the odds are that you have driven in one. It is first important to discern the difference between a traffic circle and a roundabout; it is in fact quite simple.
A traffic circle is the larger of the two. It will also usually have stop signs or traffic signals to meter the flow of traffic, whereas a roundabout does not.
A roundabout is a circular intersection designed to direct all traffic in a counterclockwise direction. Every roundabout has an island of some sort in the middle to prevent vehicles from cutting through it. If you imagine a circle with an inner and outer core, you have a roundabout. The inner core is off limits, and the outer core is where vehicles travel.
What Is the Purpose of a Roundabout?
A roundabout is designed to be safer for drivers than a massive intersection. The reason for this is that a roundabout forces vehicles to slow down; drivers can only go so fast when entering or driving in a roundabout. There is no traffic signal to run; therefore, there will be no T-bone accidents, which could and often do lead to serious personal injury or death.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts account for many positive outcomes, including calming and slowing down traffic, reducing speeds, and lessening conflict points.
Besides safety, roundabouts supposedly meter traffic at a higher volume than intersections. The reason for this is that roundabouts require vehicles to yield to oncoming traffic, whereas traditional intersections require traffic to stop. In other words, traffic pretty much keeps moving in a roundabout.
What Are the Rules of a Roundabout?
When approaching a roundabout, you must yield to the vehicles already traveling in it. Before entering, you should choose a lane, if it has multiple lanes, according to the exit you are taking. For instance, if you are getting off at the first exit on the right, you should choose the outside lane.
Remember as with any road travel, you must yield to pedestrians. You must use your turn signal to switch lanes or exit the same as in any scenario of travel, but do not switch lanes until you are ready to exit. Remember that using your turn signal is to inform other vehicles of your intentions.
There is no stopping in a roundabout, as this could cause a rear-end collision. Above all, you must obey the required speed limit, which in most cases is 20 mph.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents in a Roundabout?
Even though serious accidents happen less frequently in roundabouts, they still happen. Moreover, roundabouts are notorious for minor accidents, which could also lead to serious injuries. As with most car accidents, negligent drivers are the cause of most roundabout accidents; there are no traffic signals to fail, and mechanical failures are not as big a worry when traveling at low speeds.
Speeding is a surefire way to cause a roundabout accident. When a driver is in a hurry in a roundabout, the speed differential between that driver’s car and other vehicles can cause a problem. For instance, with having to quickly switch lanes or exit, it could be too difficult to spot a car that is traveling at a considerably higher speed.
Some drivers like to give courtesy to other vehicles trying to enter a roundabout; this could not be more ill-advised. The flow of traffic in a roundabout is essential to safety. Stopping or slowing down to allow a vehicle to enter could cause a rear-end collision or a vehicle to swerve and hit another vehicle.
Switching lanes is one of the trickiest maneuvers when driving in a roundabout. Sideswiping another vehicle is a common result when vehicles either suddenly or erratically switch lanes. It is important to remember that it is more difficult to spot adjacent vehicles when traveling in a circle; thus, blind spots are more ubiquitous.
Passing other vehicles is dangerous in a roundabout. Again, the flow of traffic in a roundabout is essential to the safety and proper execution of all vehicles. Thus, passing the vehicle in front of you creates a precarious situation in which you could crash with a vehicle in your blind spot or with a vehicle entering the roundabout; your eyes are busy passing the car in front of you.
Failing to yield when approaching a roundabout could cost you dearly. Remember that the traffic already in the roundabout has the right of way. Trying to beat the oncoming traffic could end up badly. It is difficult for drivers already in the roundabout to anticipate another driver who has decided to jump in. It is also difficult for the driver who is entering to accurately judge the speed of the vehicles inside the roundabout.
Alexandria Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Represent Clients Involved in a Roundabout Accident
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident at a roundabout, you need a competent lawyer on your side. The experienced Alexandria car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.