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Roundabouts can help to create safer roads

Drivers in West Virginia know to be careful when they enter into an intersection. The conjunction points between roads can be quite dangerous, often leading to catastrophic injuries or even fatalities as cars come together from different directions. Because of the dangerous nature of intersections, traffic engineers have suggested a number of alternatives, including the construction of roundabouts, to eliminate hazards at roadway junctions.

In a study conducted by the Department of Transportation in Minnesota, more than 140 roundabouts throughout the state were examined. These included both urban and rural sites but excluded low-traffic, purely residential and private roundabouts. The study found dramatic results; fatal car accidents declined 86 percent at these sites following the construction of roundabouts. Accidents involving bodily injuries also declined dramatically as serious injury crashes fell 83 percent and all injury crashes declined by 61 percent at single-lane roundabouts.

However, these strongly positive results were not reflected for property damage crashes that did not result in bodily harm. These types of crashes actually escalated by 75 percent at single-lane roundabouts, potentially indicating that fatality and serious injury crashes were largely replaced by property-damage-only accidents. When examining the results, traffic engineers noted that a major contributor was the elimination of "T-bone" accidents. In these crashes, one car's front end hits the side of another vehicle. The structure of a roundabout impels does not allow cars to hit one another in this way.

While traffic management and roadway construction advances can make the roads much safer, crashes are still caused by negligent driving, texting while driving and other dangerous driver actions. An individual who has been injured in a car accident through no fault of their own may be eligible for compensation.

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