roundabout accidents

From the Local News: Auto Accident

A Pasco woman was injured Sunday afternoon when her car hit another sedan in a roundabout near the blue bridge in Kennewick. She was taken to a local hospital. The Washington State Patrol reported that both cars had just exited the southbound lanes of Highway 395 at the bridge and were entering the Columbia Drive traffic circle when the Pasco woman’s 2006 Nissan Maxima struck the 2007 Honda Accord. The state patrol said that the woman driving the Honda was not injured. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. Troopers are further investigating the cause to determine what citation or charge is appropriate for driver of the Nissan. Read more here:

What is a Roundabout?

First introduced in the United Kingdom in 1963, a Roundabout, or Rotary, is a circular intersection that was designed to promote safe and efficient traffic flow by decreasing motorists’ speed enough to navigate a raised center island, without stopping at the usual controlled light system or stop signs. Because they were so successful at saving time and resources, Roundabouts are now being used in countries around the world.  Their popularity is catching on here in the Pacific Northwest as well.

In a Roundabout Way

The Washington State Department of Transportation cites studies by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and the Federal Highway Administration showing how roundabouts have reduced the overall number of collisions, injuries, fatalities, and pedestrian accidents, in some cases by as much as 75%, over traditional stop lights or signed intersections.

There are several contributing factors to these reductions, but the three most noted reasons are:

  1. Lower Travel Speeds—Drivers must slow down before entering the roundabout. At speeds of 15-20 mph, any injury or accident occurring will be minor as opposed to other traffic scenarios.
  2. No “Light to Beat” Mentality—Because roundabouts have a continual flow of traffic, drivers only need to yield prior to entering the circle of travel. There’s no incentive to get ahead when there’s already continuity and pacing.
  3. One-way Travel—Drivers turning left do not have to slow and wait for gaps in the on-coming traffic. The roundabout serves as a safer means of travel because it eliminates the possibility of T-bone and Head-on collisions. No more unprotected left turns!

Rules of the Road

Vehicles entering the roundabout circle must yield the right-of-way to the circulating traffic. Most vehicles gradually reduce their speed to about 15-20 mph prior to entering the circle, making a consistent flow of vehicles into, around, and out of the roundabout. Drivers must always look for any potential conflicts with vehicles already in the circle. At already lower speeds, motorists should be able to stop quicker for pedestrians and bicyclists. Once in the roundabout, drivers then proceed to the appropriate exit, following the guidance provided by traffic signs and pavement markings.  When there are two or more vehicles in the roundabout at the same time, drivers must yield to the vehicle on the left. Otherwise, a roundabout is on a first come, first served basis.



One thing drivers need to remember: Signal, Signal, Signal.

Indicating where you are going helps other drivers prepare for your exits and travel in the appropriate lane.




Seeing Double: Two-Lane Roundabouts

Roundabouts follow the existing road; so, if you have two lanes of travel going in each direction, the purpose of the roundabout isn’t to funnel the traffic flow into one lane, but rather keep it flowing in both lanes, right on through the intersection.

It can be a little intimidating navigating a roundabout with two lanes, but here are some tips to help you out:

  • If you are turning right (first exit)–take the outside lane.
  • If you are going straight or the second exit–take the outside lane
  • If you are taking a further exit–take the innermost lane and move over prior to your exit, after the first or second exit.

The Washington State Department of Transportation also provides diagrams to help illustrate these Turn guidelines:











Going Around

Over 5,000 roundabouts have been added to US roadways since 1990, with hundreds more being constructed every year. They are a practical answer, a fiscally smart option, for many local communities looking to improve the flow of traffic in congested routes that have known issues.  Who knew that going around in circles would be such a good thing, right?  Safety has proven to be an added bonus city planners cannot put a price tag on.

While roundabouts give vehicles the opportunity to make four different types of protected turns in the intersection–a right turn, straight ahead, a left turn, or a U-turn—accidents sometimes still happen.  A review of crashes at 39 roundabouts across the country, found that rear-end collisions were the most common crash type, either entering or exiting the roundabout. 

Serious roundabout accidents can occur when a driver is distracted or fails to follow directions for navigating the traffic circle. If  you’ve been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligent driving, you may need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney that can help you receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses.  Don’t let an accident WRECK YOU!

If you or some you love has been injured in an auto or pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to contact Fielding Law Group today for help.