Fact File: Roundabouts

22nd February 2016

As Britons we’re fascinated by roundabouts and they continue to both infuriate and be something of a marvel that others just don’t get.

Americans don’t deal with roundabouts, they have intersections instead, which are huge junctions with complex traffic light systems. With this you follow the lights and flow of traffic, rather than judging gaps and stopping distances yourself.

Logically you’d think roundabouts are less safe, but actually they are meticulously designed to keep traffic moving. This design ensures that traffic jams can be prevented, just like with varied speed limits on motorways.

If that isn’t enough, some towns and cities have pretty cool landmarks, flowerbeds and statues on their roundabouts.

5 Benefits Of Roundabouts

  1. They keep us alert, by breaking up journeys and giving us the chance to stop and focus our thoughts on our surroundings.
  2. The chance of head-on collisions is reduced by roundabouts – greatly decreasing serious injuries.
  3. Traffic flow is smoothed, allowing everyone to get to their destination quicker.
  4. Traffic speed is reduced to minimise the risk of bad crashes.
  5. They improve our observation capabilities and ability to respond early to driving situations.

3 Facts About Roundabouts

  • Studies have shown that roundabouts are safer than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections. Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control. (Study: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Half of the world’s roundabouts are in France (more than 30,000 as of 2008), although the United Kingdom has more as a proportion of the road than any other country. (Wikipedia / B. Guichet Western CETE – France presentation – Teach America)
  • The term “Magic Roundabout” is given to a roundabout that directs traffic in both directions around the central island. They’re officially known as “ring junctions”, first designed in 1972, by Frank Blackmore, the inventor of the mini-roundabout. The name derives from the popular children’s TV series, “The Magic Roundabout”.

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