Roundabouts Eliminate the “Kill Zone”

By Kent Lemarie

June 27, 2015

When the RSFA board voted, I don’t think all of the facts were on the table. In my view, SAFETY is clearly the most important consideration. Federal, state and independent studies reveal that roundabouts are far and away the safest intersection control alternative. Consider that 44% of all traffic accidents occur within controlled intersections. The worst of these are head-on and T-bone collisions resulting in injury and/or death. Roundabouts replace the center of the intersection, known as the “kill zone,” with a landscaped center island. With roundabouts, there are 75% fewer injury collisions, 90% fewer fatal collisions and 40% fewer pedestrian collisions at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control. Installing roundabouts in place of traffic signals can also reduce the likelihood of rear-end crashes and their severity by removing the incentive for drivers to speed up as they approach green lights and by reducing abrupt stops at red lights.

When collisions do occur in a roundabout, they are at a reduced speed and most often result in property damage only. Roundabouts improve traffic flow/capacity 30-50%, are environmentally friendly reducing emissions and fuel consumption and they are aesthetically pleasing.

There are now thousands of roundabouts in the United States, many of which replaced traffic signals. Some states, Such as New York and Virginia, have adopted “roundabouts first” policies requiring that roundabouts be considered a preferred alternative when building new intersections or upgrading older ones.

The bottom line for me is that SAFETY is the overwhelming reason to choose roundabouts. I strongly encourage the RSFA board to change their position or at least let this decision come to a community vote after the residents of the Covenant are fully informed.

M. Kent Lemarie, MD

Emergency Physician and 39 year Covenant resident

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