Road construction season is upon us and you'll see plenty of orange cones all over Eastern Iowa this summer. Among the most controversial of all road projects are roundabouts. It seems like just a few years ago, we had very few if any roundabouts. Now, it seems like a new one pops up every month! I personally love roundabouts and you should too! Because guess what? They aren't going anywhere!

So what's so great about roundabouts? Don't they just confuse drivers? Some drivers have a little difficulty navigating them, true. But the statistics don't lie. According to the Iowa DOT, studies show that roundabouts provide a,

  • 90% reduction in fatal crashes
  • 76% reduction in injury crashes
  • 30 to 40% reduction in pedestrian crashes
  • 10% reduction in bicycle crashes

I use at least one roundabout every day. Several years ago they built one on 7th Avenue in Marion.

Google Maps
Google Maps

This roundabout has multiple lanes which help control the traffic flow along one of the busiest roads in Marion. My only complaint about this and other roundabouts is that some drivers simply don't know the rules of how to drive in and near one. So here they are!

The Iowa DOT reminds drivers that in a roundabout, traffic circles counterclockwise toward vehicles at the yield line. Drivers should always yield at the entry point to traffic in the roundabout. That means that you should always yield to traffic on your left, just like when you enter onto an interstate, or turn right at a red light or stop sign.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Roundabouts also provide other benefits including lower vehicle speeds, less vehicle pollution, and lower maintenance costs compared to traffic signals, according to the Iowa DOT. Many people also still falsely think that roundabouts slow down traffic and make commutes longer. In fact, roundabouts keep you moving, unlike traffic signals which are where most of your time is wasted on your morning or evening commute.

One final benefit to roundabouts? Cost. With no traffic signals to install, most roundabouts are less expensive than traditional intersections, according to the Iowa DOT. So don't fear the circle, embrace roundabouts! Because they're here to stay!

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