New traffic patterns always make drivers wary, but roundabouts have proven safety and efficiency benefits for everyone in the community. Still, it’s always a good idea to be cautious. If you or a loved one gets into a car accident on a new roundabout in Huntsville, explore your legal options with help from a local car accident attorney.

Traffic roundabouts are becoming more common around the U.S. as cities strive to make their streets safer for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians. City officials in Huntsville believe that roundabouts may be part of the answer to frequent vehicle collisions in the city. In 2015 (the most recent year data is available), there were 7,960 car accidents, 11 deaths, and 2,090 injuries in Huntsville. This was an increase from 7,639 total crashes the year before.

Roundabouts Coming to Huntsville, Alabama

The Alabama Transportation and Rehabilitation Program (ATRIP) is funding the very first roundabout in The Shoals area of Alabama, coming later this year. ATRIP and the city of Florence believes the roundabout, and others like it coming in the near future, will offer a safer driving route than what is already available. The first roundabout will appear at the intersection of South Royal Avenue and Huntsville Road.

An engineer for the state’s Department of Transportation, Judd Young, believes Huntsville drivers won’t have any problems adjusting to the new roundabout. In general, roundabouts promote low-speed environments with lower odds of collisions than standard four-way intersections. The plans for the new roundabout include plenty of signage and roadway paint to help drivers navigate the intersection.

Benefits of Roundabouts

There are currently over 1,000 roundabouts in the United States. This number is growing every year, however, as more and more people recognize the proven safety advantages of a modern roundabout. Modern roundabouts have yield signs at all entries, a counterclockwise circulation of traffic around a central island, and appropriate curvature to encourage slower speeds. They often have more than one lane for optimal driver safety.

Roundabouts boast benefits such as:

  • No crossing conflicts. Intersection accidents are common causes of a serious driver, bicyclist, and pedestrian injuries. They happen most often when one driver ignores the right-of-way and collides with an oncoming driver at a crossing point. Roundabouts reduce the number of conflict points.
  • Fewer and less serious accidents. Studies have shown roundabouts reduce the total number of crashes by about 35%. They drastically reduce the risk of serious injury accidents (76%) and fatal injuries (86%). One study even found that installing a roundabout resulted in a 100% reduction in fatalities.
  • Less traffic congestion. Since vehicles entering roundabouts have to yield instead of wait for a green light, roundabouts can reduce the amount of stopped traffic in Huntsville. Studies have noticed the best delay reduction during non-peak traffic periods.
  • Better pedestrian safety. Intersections are historically dangerous for crossing pedestrians, causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths each year. The lower speed of vehicles in roundabouts, as well as the center island refuge area, make them safer for pedestrians.
  • More beauty in Huntsville. The city can use the center island of a roundabout to showcase native flora and fauna, artwork, sculptures, and more, adding to the aesthetic appeal of major intersections – keeping in mind, of course, what will be appropriate for the area and road speed.

Overall, roundabouts are very safe options for Huntsville drivers. Roundabouts are cropping up around the world as advanced geometry and science are making them safer than ever. As long as the city designs and installs a safe, modern roundabout with plenty of signage, drivers in Huntsville should have nothing to worry about. In fact, drivers should look forward to the installation of the first local roundabout, and hopefully more to come.