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A 2001 Institute study of 23 intersections in the United States reported that converting intersections from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 80 percent and all crashes by 40 percent.1 Similar results were reported by Eisenman et al.: a 75 percent decrease in injury crashes and a 37 percent decrease in total crashes at 35 intersections that were converted from traffic signals to roundabouts.2 Studies of intersections in Europe and Australia that were converted to roundabouts have reported 41-61 percent reductions in injury crashes and 45-75 percent reductions in severe injury crashes.3
In the study of crashes at Maryland roundabouts, Institute researchers concluded that unsafe speeds were an important driver crash factor. Some drivers may not have seen the roundabout in time. Measures to alert drivers of the need to reduce speeds (e.g., speed limit signs well in advance of roundabouts) and increase the conspicuity of roundabouts (e.g., larger roundabout ahead signs and YIELD signs, enhanced landscaping of center islands, pavement with reflector markings) may help to reduce crashes at roundabouts. Certain design features such as adequate curvature of approach roads also may aid in reducing speeds.
A recent Institute study documented missed opportunities to improve traffic flow and safety at 10 urban intersections suitable for roundabouts where either traffic signals were installed or major modifications were made to signalized intersections.8 It was estimated that the use of roundabouts instead of traffic signals at these 10 intersections would have reduced vehicle delays by 62-74 percent. This is equivalent to approximately 325,000 fewer hours of vehicle delay on an annual basis.
The additional travel lanes in multi-lane roundabouts increase the complexity of the driving task. Information is not yet available on drivers' attitudes toward multi-lane roundabouts in the United States.