Wisconsin is home to some of the most roundabouts in the country. For some, this is a source of frustration, while others prefer roundabouts to traffic lights.
When it comes to safety, roundabouts tend to fare better than traffic lights, though both systems have comparative advantages.
Safety in roundabouts
The theory behind installing roundabouts is that they reduce fatal crashes and injury collisions compared to traditional intersections. By eliminating the need for drivers to stop, slow down or accelerate, roundabouts reduce the risk of high-speed collisions. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, roundabouts increase both safety and efficient traffic flow. In addition, the circular design of roundabouts promotes slower speeds and increases visibility, making it easier for drivers to anticipate and respond to potential hazards.
Safety in traffic lights
By design, traffic lights regulate the flow of traffic and provide a clear signal to drivers about when it is safe to proceed. While traffic lights can be effective at reducing the risk of collisions, they are also subject to issues such as malfunctions, power outages and incorrect timing, which can lead to confusion and collisions. Not only this, but drivers may ignore traffic lights or engage in aggressive behavior, such as running red lights, which can increase the risk of crashes.
Overall, roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals. Even so, the relative safety of roundabouts and traffic lights can depend on several factors, including the specific intersection, traffic volume, driver behavior and road design.