Are Roundabouts Safer for Pedestrians?

As part of ongoing efforts to ease congestion and increase safety, Ann Arbor has been building roundabouts over the past couple of years. Yet safety issues linger regarding the circular intersections, with many people wondering if the roundabouts are as safe as advertised for pedestrians.

Workers are schedule to finish three new roundabouts on the east side of Ann Arbor for the Geddes Road exit for U.S. 23 in October. When completed, Ann Arbor will have seven roundabouts, with three additional roundabouts elsewhere in Washtenaw County. The city is considering adding another at the intersection of Fuller Road and Maiden Lane.

The growth in roundabouts is due to city and county planners' efforts to reduce traffic congestion while cutting down on noise and air pollution and making our streets safer.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that roundabouts provide a:

  • 30 to 40 percent reduction in crashes involving pedestrians
  • 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes
  • 76 percent reduction in injuries in crashes
  • 10 percent reduction in motor vehicle crashes with bicycles

Roundabouts are safer because they accomplish three main traffic objectives:

  • Vehicles move at slower speeds through roundabouts than traditional intersections
  • There are fewer conflict points between vehicles and between vehicles and pedestrians
  • Drivers have easier decisions to make as they proceed through a roundabout

Because traffic moves counterclockwise through a roundabout, a driver's choices are narrowed, as are the possibilities for collisions.

Michigan Traffic Law

In Michigan, traffic laws state that pedestrians who want to have the right of way must use crosswalks when crossing streets. Pedestrians must also obey traffic signals. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Because roundabout crosswalks tend to be set back from the flow of traffic, and because the flow is always in one direction, it's easier for people afoot and for drivers to spot each other.

Protecting Yourself

Safety experts warn pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers before proceeding into a crosswalk and to wear bright, reflective clothing when walking at night.

If you or a loved one is injured in a pedestrian accident or crash, contact the experienced attorneys at Bredell and Bredell. We offer free consultation, with no fee until you collect. We will assess the merits of your case and advise you of how best to use the law to protect yourself and family.