Do roundabouts help or hurt?

Study says roundabouts have not stopped crashes

Traditional intersections aren't stopping crashes. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says that's why the decision was made to construct more roundabouts throughout Wisconsin. However, a 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin Madison says roundabouts have not stopped crashes altogether. 

UW Madison's data found Wisconsin's southeastern regional roundabouts have seen a 29% increase in total crashes. But, studies also showed a 34% decrease in fatal crashes. Wisconsin State Patrol Lieutenant Nathan Clarke says many of the roundabout crashes are usually fender benders or rear-end crashes.

"You know what, sheet metal can be repaired. It can be repaired and replaced. Lives can't be," says Clarke. 

 Wisconsin DOT says only 1% of state truck and local highways have roundabouts on them. DOT and law enforcement agree that it's because of a lack of education on how to drive the 383 roundabouts is what causes the crashes.

"Take the time, learn how to properly use them. Understand what a single lane roundabout is," says the Southeastern Regional Communication's Director Michael Pyritz. 

Officials agree that drivers are allowed to be upset with the increase in sideswipes and other property damaging crashes. But it's all due to inexperience, which is currently being fixed in driver's education courses.  

"Especially the newer drivers. They're being trained on how to use single lane, a double lane...all the little steps that are imperative," says Pyritz. 

 Lieutenant Clarke says other countries are taught to signal when approaching the roundabout. As drivers enter and exit that intersection, they're able to gauge when and where other motorist plan to exit because of their signal. 

"As we move forward with new ideas and new technologies, it's just an adjustment period. But as long as we're more patient with each other on the highway. Hopefully, you know, we'll be safer on the highway," says Clarke. 

Officials anticipate the number of crashes in roundabouts to decrease in the coming years. Especially since more motorists will have the chance to experience roundabouts as DOT plans to continue building them throughout the state. 

Print this article Back to Top