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Roundabouts: Good or Bad?

Transportation Specialist, HNI

Many people hate roundabouts including electricians and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  Road builders and environmentalists love them.  There are some roundabouts that just didn’t get planned appropriately, but that is neither hereroundabout nor there; they are here to stay.  It doesn’t matter if you like roundabouts or you don’t, let’s just think about it for a minute.

These intersections aren’t that hard to figure out.  It’s a circle that allows you to keep going unless there’s traffic.  All the traffic moves the same way reducing crashes at intersections.  A typical intersection would have you waiting even if there are no cars.  A roundabout is based on traffic flow and common sense.  If you are in the roundabout, keep going.  You have the right of way.  If you are entering the roundabout, YIELD!  It is the red and white triangle sign at the entrance that was on your driver’s test.  As the vehicle entering, you need to pause and wait your turn.  That’s all.  It isn’t that difficult.  The joy of the roundabout is that if there’s no traffic, you don’t have to wait. 

Remember to stay in your lane in a multi-lane roundabout.  The curve at the entrance to the roundabout is there to force entering vehicles to slow down.  If you are entering a roundabout, don’t speed up and go flying through like the driver of the old brown conversion van with a death wish that I saw last week. 

One more important point about roundabouts: give CMVs room.  The circle in the middle and the curb that’s there keep passenger vehicles in their lane.  However, it is called the truck apron for a reason.  It is space for CMVs to have extra room to get their unit through the roundabout.  Please stay out of their way.  Heck, that could be your toilet paper, dinner, or any of the other 83% of the nation’s freight that trucks haul. 

Roundabouts reduce crashes and they're here to stay, so let’s figure out to maneuver through them safely.  For more information on roundabouts, check out www.wisconsinroundabouts.gov.  Another good resource is the Wisconsin Traffic Safety Reporter newsletter.  

If you have strong feelings about roundabouts and CMVs, you are invited to complete a survey currently being conducted by the Wisconsin & Minnesota Departments of Transportation.

Topics: Transportation