February 27, 2023
What Can Cause a Roundabout Accident?
Roundabouts, also known as traffic circles, are designed to reduce traffic congestion and accidents seen in traditional intersections. Roundabouts are circular intersections with four or more exits and no stops, creating a continual flow of moving traffic in the same direction through the intersection.
For many decades, roundabouts were uniquely European, but are becoming increasingly more common in United States road engineering and construction. According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts reduce 35 percent of overall traffic accidents than traditional intersections, equating to a 90 percent decrease in fatalities and a 75 percent decrease in injuries.
Roundabouts provide safer intersections as they slow traffic and eliminate dangerous left-hand turns and congestion that frequently occur at four-way stop intersections. Unfortunately, some drivers are intimidated by the continually moving traffic in roundabouts or do not understand how to travel through them, leading to potentially serious accidents.
What Are Some Common Causes of Roundabout Traffic Accidents?
Roundabouts are constructed to be safer types of intersections as they eliminate head-on, high speed, and T-bone collisions, as all vehicles are moving in the same direction. Despite this, there are still accidents possible in a roundabout, due to:
- Speeding: While it is important to reduce speed when approaching or driving in a roundabout, not all drivers do. As other motorists enter one of the roundabout’s many entrances, those who are speeding do not have sufficient time to stop.
- Improper lane changes: Pay attention to the traffic signs instructing which lane to use while in the roundabout, especially ones with multiple traffic lanes. Failure to follow the posted directions causes drivers to suddenly change lanes, possibly hitting other cars. The convenience of a circular design allows drivers to go around again to reach the proper exit without sudden lane changes.
- Stopping: Roundabouts are designed for continuously moving traffic. Stopping while in the circle can cause rear-end collisions or pileups involving multiple vehicles.
- Failing to yield: Roundabouts are also designed to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. Drivers who fail to yield for either can cause an accident resulting in serious injuries to them. Failing to yield to other vehicles already in the roundabout can also result in a collision.
- Truck leeway: Commercial trucks and other large vehicles need more space within roundabouts. Drivers who do not give them space or try to pass them end up causing dangerous accidents.
- Clearing for emergency vehicles: Drivers who do not pull to the side and provide space for emergency vehicles to travel through the roundabout quickly can cause accidents while also increasing response time to the emergency.
What Types of Injuries Occur in Roundabout Accidents?
For continuous traffic flow, vehicles travel at higher speeds in roundabouts versus traditional intersections. Roundabout collisions can produce serious injuries, especially when accidents involve large commercial trucks. Common injuries include:
- Whiplash: The most common accident in traffic circles is rear-end collisions, causing occupants in both vehicles to experience a sudden jerking forward, then backward. Such movement injures soft tissue in the neck known as whiplash.
- Fractures: Broken bones at any location in the body, the most common being ribs, arms, legs, and collarbones.
- Organ damage: Direct blows to the torso can damage many of the body’s most essential organs, which can be serious and life-threatening. Organ damage is not often visible and should be medically evaluated following an accident.
- Internal bleeding: Like organ damage, internal bleeding can be extremely serious and requires immediate medical care to not result in fatality.
- Concussions: When the brain is slammed against the skull due to sudden stopping or jerking motions, the brain becomes bruised. Concussions range in severity from mild, such as headaches and blurred vision, to life-altering changes in personality, chronic depression, and violent tendencies.
To reduce your risk in roundabouts, always wear your seatbelt, follow the speed limit, and yield to others appropriately. Following a traffic accident, you should always seek medical evaluation, regardless of whether you feel your injuries are minor. Many injuries do not present symptoms for hours or days but can be life-threatening if left untreated.
How Can I Avoid Having an Accident in a Roundabout?
While you cannot control how others drive in roundabouts, but you can take measures to minimize your risk and improve the safety of you and your passengers, such as:
- Do not make sudden lane changes if you are in the wrong one or miss your exit. Instead, go around again.
- Do not stop while traveling inside the roundabout.
- Drive slowly, obeying the posted speed limit.
- Exit the roundabout cautiously, especially if making a right turn.
- Move out of the way of emergency vehicles.
- Pay attention to direction and lane signs.
- Pay attention to others when entering and yield to oncoming traffic.
- Provide additional room for larger commercial trucks and vehicles.
- Use turn signals in advance of your exit.
- Yield to pedestrians and cyclists crossing over the intersections and traffic already in the roundabout.
If you are involved in a traffic accident in a roundabout, pull safely out of the way if you are able and call police to report the accident. Request emergency responders in the case of injuries, especially those that are severe. If your car is still within the roundabout with moving traffic, stay in your car for safety until police arrive and stop or reroute traffic.
Typically following an accident, you should take photos to document the scene, gather witness statements, and exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. When accidents happen in roundabouts, these steps are not always possible as traffic often continues moving in one or more lanes, and witnesses often continue driving through. Once your vehicle is moved out of harm’s way, you may be able to take photos of the scene from outside the roundabout and any obstacles that may have contributed to the accident.
King of Prussia Car Accident Attorneys at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Represent Clients Injured in Roundabout Accidents
If you have been injured in a car accident due in a roundabout or traffic circle, the experienced King of Prussia car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. can help you assess the accident and determine who is liable for your injuries. Call us today at 267-861-7100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Delaware County and Norristown, Pennsylvania.