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Why are Arizona cities adding roundabouts on busy roads?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Car Accidents |

There have been numerous noteworthy changes to urban planning standards in recent years. Solutions that were once near-universal have now become less common during new road construction or improvements and expansions to existing streets.

One of the more noticeable changes to how municipalities manage traffic is the transition to the use of roundabouts instead of traditional intersections with stop lights or traffic signs. There are many issues with traditional intersections, including a high degree of crash risk, driver non-compliance with signage and issues with traffic congestion. Roundabouts can help address all of those concerns.

Roundabouts often confuse drivers after their initial installation and can lead to traffic delays and frustration after their initial installation. Why have Arizona urban planners begun to replace traditional intersections with roundabouts?

Left-hand turns are a major crash risk

In any place where multiple vehicles cross paths with one another, there is reason to worry about the possibility of a collision. Busy intersections often see some of the worst crashes that occur on urban roads, and a large percentage of those crashes involve at least one vehicle attempting to turn left.

Left-hand turns expose vehicles to every approaching lane of traffic and often require slower speeds than right-hand turns. Eliminating the need to turn left with a roundabout can be a smart municipal design move. At roundabouts, vehicles theoretically do not need to stop at all.

When everyone feels comfortable approaching a roundabout, traffic may continue to flow smoothly with few interruptions. Vehicles may have to yield to others already in the roundabout but can otherwise enter the intersection and then exit at the appropriate point without actually directly crossing other lines of traffic.

Unfortunately, there can be a steep learning curve with new traffic infrastructure that puts people at risk. The changeover to roundabouts also requires significant investment and advance planning, meaning that many dangerous roads may not see any changes for quite some time depending on local budgets.

Local authorities may target the highest-risk intersections for the installation of roundabouts to optimize the return on this investment. Understanding the safety factors that contribute to road design issues can help people who aspire to reduce their chances of being involved in a major car wreck.