Within the last few years, more intersections in Pennsylvania equipped only with stop signs or signal controls are being replaced by roundabouts. A recent study conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) revealed that the presence of traffic roundabouts at highly traveled intersections can reduce the number of car accidents at those locations.
The PennDOT study examined data from 11 roundabouts located on state highways, including locations in Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County. Researchers reviewed crash and fatality data for three years before and after the installation of a roundabout.
According to the PennDOT data, the number of serious injuries and deaths at locations with roundabouts decreased by 100 percent from 2000 to 2017. The number of minor traffic accidents at these locations similarly decreased, with 47 percent less traffic collisions occurring after the installation of a roundabout.
For the 11 roundabout locations reviewed, the number of fatalities went from two to zero, with the number of serious injuries decreasing from seven to zero. Even minor car accident injuries were reduced by 95 percent with a reduction from 19 minor injuries to only one.
The total number of car crashes at these locations decreased from 101 to 54, representing a 47 percent reduction.
The PennDot study included data from four local roundabouts located at:
- Intersection of Trevose Road and Somerton Road, Bucks County (installed in 2012)
- Intersection of Doe Run Road and Unionville Road, Chester County (installed in 2005)
- Intersection of Newton Street Road and St. David’s Road, Delaware County (installed in 2008)
- Intersection of Gravel Pike and Big Road, Montgomery County (installed in 2009)
Slower Speeds Means Safer Driving
The curved design of roundabouts generally results in slower speeds as drivers move through the curves. Yielding to circulating traffic also causes drivers to operate at lower speeds. When drivers slow down, the types of injuries resulting from collisions are much less serious than collisions that occur at high speeds.
Accidents that occur at roundabouts, such as sideswipes, typically result in only minor injuries. Severe injuries associated with more dangerous crashes, such as head-on collisions or “T-bone” accidents, typically do not occur at roundabouts.
An additional benefit of installing roundabouts is improved traffic flow, which also promotes safer driving. Roundabouts also have been shown to facilitate pedestrian mobility.
Installation of Roundabouts
PennDot recently installed 43 roundabouts on state routes, with 26 more roundabouts in the design phase. The latest proposed roundabout location is in Upper Saint Clair Township at the intersection of McLaughlin Run and McMillan Road.
Not every signal controlled or stop sign controlled intersection can be converted into a roundabout. Intersections located on hillsides; are too close to other intersections; or are on property designated as a cultural resource would not qualify to be converted into a roundabout. Intersections that are heavily traveled with more than 20,000 vehicles daily also do not qualify for the installation of a roundabout.
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