In the United States an average of 40,000 people will die every year in a traffic related accident while at an intersection. This is mostly due to inefficiencies in both the design and implementation of traffic lights at intersections, as well as in part a result of stop and go style traffic. In an effort to aid public safety and lower fatality rates, Oregon, Florida, Washington, as well as Colorado, have begun the transition from costly intersections toward cost reducing and life saving roundabouts. This November, California could be backtracking roadway safety.
According to the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, the switch from intersections to roundabouts led to on average, a 90% decrease in the number of fatalities as well as a 75% reduction in the number of injuries sustained during traffic collisions. The town of Carmel, Indiana which hosts the highest number of roundabouts in any US city, has also experienced fatality rate reductions upwards of 85%. Day by day, until roadway changes are made the number of traffic collision injuries and fatalities in my home state of California will continue to rise. This November Californians will vote on CA PROP 6, which is a reallocation of funding for roadway and bridge safety, but is effectively a reduction in the amount of funding allocated for these public safety services. Voting NO on 6 would keep the 2017 Road Repair & Accountability Act, and lead to faster roadway improvements as well as more lives saved due to having more allocated for these specific improvements.
Compared to the stop and go traffic that plagues traffic intersections, roundabouts host a continuous flow of traffic at slower than average traffic speeds. Whereas a traffic light will signal a driver stop completely before slowly accelerating only to repeat this process at the next light, a roundabout provides a 15 – 20 mph “no light to beat” one way of travel flow. This speeds up commuter speeds, is correlated with a raise in public safety numbers, and reduces traffic build up by 15% – 20% on average. Not only is this a much faster process, it can also alleviate road rage incidents through a reduction in commute times.
Compared to traffic intersections, roundabouts are both less costly to build, and more energy/space efficient. In California, the cost of building a traffic signal is a considerable amount higher than the cost of building a roundabout in the same location. The yearly maintenance and upkeep of that specific traffic point is also greatly reduced, as repairs and electrical costs are kept to a minimum. These types of roundabout traffic points also work more effectively than their intersection counterparts during a power outage. During an emergency such as a power outage, the implementation of roundabouts would speed up civilian evacuation times by again bottlenecking stop and go traffic points.
Compared to traffic intersections, roundabouts take less time to build. The Washington State Dept. of Transportation for example cites the estimated time from plan to switch of an intersection at 6 to 9 months total. This means less slowdowns due to road work, less road work, and faster roads. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the dollar cost effectiveness of building a roundabout as compared to an intersection is 13x, this number is calculated through a crash cost reduction analysis. With the cost of building being lower than average, and the rate of repair on crash bent lights and other repairs reduced, the dollar cost average in comparison to an intersection is more highly favorable when building a roundabout.
Compared to traffic intersections, roundabouts save lives. Not including the 85%+ driver on driver collision reduction numbers, roundabouts also account for a 40% reduction in the number of drivers on pedestrian collisions as well as a 35% reduction in the number of car on car as well as car on pedestrian collisions in general. Cities with roundabouts also claim roundabouts are safer than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections both in terms of public safety and highway safety. These statistics and studies were performed and acquired by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety & the Federal Highway Safety Administration.
At present in terms of car on car collisions, the Federal Highway Administration lists traffic intersections as the single most dangerous place on the road for drivers today. Over 733,000 collisions were reported in 2017, and as a result of these collisions 40,325 drivers on US roadways lost their lives. Last year in California alone, over 4000 drivers and 140 pedestrians lost their lives in a traffic collision. This year, with the proposal of prop 6 and the potential repeal of the 2017 Road Repair & Accountability Act, California could be taking a step backwards in terms of roadway safety.
To my fellow Californians, the case for the effectiveness of roundabouts as a life saving and cost reducing tool is being proven day after day in states other than our own.
To my fellow Californians, the funding our cities and state uses for the safety of the men, women, and children on our roadways will be put to vote this November, and prop 6 is not the answer.
Vote no on prop 6, Make California Safe Again.
Kimber, R. M., et al. “Predicting Time-Dependent Distributions of Queues and Delays for Road Traffic at Roundabouts and Priority Junctions.” The Journal of the Operational Research Society, vol. 37, no. 1, 1986, pp. 87–97. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2582550.
“- Safety | Federal Highway Administration.” Mitigation Strategies For Design Exceptions – Safety | Federal Highway Administration, safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabouts/case_studies/fhwasa09018/.
“Intersection Safety – Safety | Federal Highway Administration.” Mitigation Strategies For Design Exceptions – Safety | Federal Highway Administration, safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabouts/.
“Roundabout Benefits | WSDOT.” Tacoma Narrows Bridge: Lessons From the Failure of a Great Machine, 14 Sept. 2018, http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/benefits.htm.
Yanchulis, Dave. “Home.” ADAAG, http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and- standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way/guidance-and-research/synthesis-of-literature-on-roundabout-signalization/general-considerations.