ST. GEORGE – Some drivers view roundabouts as just another intersection, with yield signs and an eye-catching centerpiece. But for others, these confusing circles are the among the last things they want to encounter on the road.
Indeed, roundabouts have their fair share of critics. But the Federal Highway Administration has found that nationwide, roundabouts contribute to a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, a 76 percent reduction in injuries and a 35 percent reduction in all crashes over traditional intersections. They also create safer travel for cyclists and pedestrians due to reduced speeds and eliminate the congestion stop signs and traffic lights can cause.
“Roundabouts are actually very safe,” St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. “However, for those drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who don’t understand them, that lack of knowledge is probably the most dangerous thing about roundabouts.”
Drivers should follow a series of basic traffic safety rules when dealing with roundabouts. Yielding the right-of-way is crucial. Yield signs and street markings are posted at the entrances of all roundabouts, near the designated crosswalks. When pulling up to a roundabout, drivers need to look to their left. If any vehicles are approaching, they must come to a complete stop at the yield line until those vehicles pass and the way is clear. If no vehicles are approaching, they can roll through the yield line and drive on.
“It’s not hard,” SGPD Sgt. Craig Harding said. “I don’t know why people find them so difficult.”
Compiling information from the St. George Police Department, the Federal Highway Administration, the 2013 Utah Drivers’ Handbook and the Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office, STGnews presents Southern Utah drivers with Eight Simple Rules for Safely Navigating a Roundabout.
1. Slow down. Obey the posted speed limit, which is usually 15 miles per hour.
2. Watch for cyclists and pedestrians. If cyclists are in the roundabout, view them as a vehicle and yield if necessary. If cyclists or pedestrians are in the crosswalk, yield without exception.
3. Always yield to any traffic approaching from the left and do not enter the roundabout unless the way is clear.
4. Signal when entering and exiting the roundabout.
5. Stay in your lane.
6. Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles.
7. Never stop once you enter the roundabout.
8. Don’t be distracted. Keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and focus on driving responsibly.
While the responsibility of safe travel through a roundabout falls mainly on drivers, cyclists and pedestrians must also abide by their own unique rules. Cyclists have two options in a roundabout: They can travel through it like a vehicle and must follow the same traffic regulations, or they can use the crosswalks like a pedestrian. Pedestrians can only use the crosswalks.
“Like any other intersection, drivers, cyclists and/or pedestrians need to pay attention to each other when entering a roundabout, and individuals negotiating a roundabout need to yield properly,” City of St. George Transportation Services Manager Cameron Cutler said. “Please be aware, follow the laws and regulations associated with traveling in the roadways and be courteous.”
Stay safe, STGnews friends!
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