In the past few years, roundabouts — what non-engineers call traffic circles — have been cropping up all over central Ohio. They are a very welcome addition.
In my view, roundabouts are vastly preferable to traffic lights. The intersection at Morse Road and Rt. 62 near our home was a dangerous bottleneck for years and consistently ranked high on the list of the most dangerous intersections in central Ohio. We knew of its dangers first-hand, because one of our family members got into an accident that was due entirely to stopped traffic blocking the view of a car trying to exit a shopping center parking lot. Since the traffic light was replaced by a roundabout the traffic flow is much better, and the long lines of stopped cars are a thing of the distant past. Traffic engineers say that the roundabouts not only improve traffic flow, they also reduce crashes generally and significant injury crashes specifically. Because every car on the roundabout is moving to the right, the chances of head-on collisions or T-bone crashes is dramatically reduced.
Of course, you have to get the hang of merging onto the roundabout. As you approach, you look to your left for traffic in the roundabout or about to enter the roundabout, and then you merge onto the roundabout to the right when there is an opening. Fortunately, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has prepared an unintentionally hilarious step-by-step guide to how to drive through a roundabout that makes you feel like you are back in drivers ed class. No doubt it will be the source of amusement for our British friends who have driven through roundabouts for decades.