On July 10 an Allen motorist suffered a possibly fatal accident at US 75 and McDermott. An accident which possibly could have been prevented.
How could it have been prevented? Because if a different intersection design had been used there is a 90 percent lower chance the accident would not have been fatal.
The safer intersection design is known as a “Modern Roundabout”.
The Arizona DOT website list the following benefits of modern roundabouts:
- 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes
- 75 percent reduction in injury crashes
- 30-40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes
- 10 percent reduction in bicycle crashes
- 30-50 percent increase in traffic capacity thereby enhancing traffic flow
This isn’t your father’s traffic circle
Roundabouts, or traffic circles, have come a long way since they were last in vogue here in Texas. Improved intersection design techniques have eliminated the many of the issues which lead to their decline in popularity.
The modern roundabout incorporates features that helps reduce entry speed which helps to provide smooth and steady traffic flow along with the ability to have traffic smoothly flowing from all directions at the same time.
Within the roundabout itself, traffic flows in only one circular direction and at a low rate of speed, almost always less than 25 mph. Collisions, when they do occur, tend to be minor fender benders.
Compare this to a traffic light, where is the flow is “sliced and diced” with traffic moving at a high rate of speed from only one or two directions at a time. All drivers must split their attention between the lights and the actions of other drivers.
Collisions at a traffic light intersection, when they occur, can involve two otherwise law abiding drivers traveling at the speed limit going in opposite directions. The force and energy involved can easily be fatal.
With gas hovering at around $4 a gallon, suddenly efficiency is on everyone’s mind. Any “hypermiler”, those individuals who will go to great lengths to squeeze every mile out of a gallon of gas, will tell you that stopping, idling, and starting are the enemies of high gas mileage.
A stoplight, particularly at a busy intersection, may cause a number of stops, idles, and starts for every driver. A roundabout, on the other hand, allows traffic to continue to flow smoothly, although at a possibly slower pace.
A roundabout also provides a 30-50 percent increase in intersection throughput. Saving time and money for every driver that uses the intersection, and even saving money for the taxpayers who don’t use the intersection, since the same lanes with more traffic flow means less money is spent widening roads.
I am well aware that a roundabout isn’t a practical solution for every intersection, but I have a very hard time believing that in all of Allen a lightly traveled intersection by the public library is the only one that makes sense.
My children go to Boyd Elementary which is located at the corner of Jupiter and Bethany — one of the more busy intersections in Allen. The road that goes by my home, White Oak, is used as a shortcut by many drivers due to the morning back-up on Bethany.
I would love for my children, and everyone else’s, to have a 30-40 percent lower chance of being hit by a car on the way to or from school. I would love to enter an intersection with a 90 percent lower chance of getting killed crossing it, and I would love for the city to take a long hard look at why the only roundabout in town is at a lightly trafficked intersection.