Traffic Circles or Roundabouts in America?

Traffic circles or roundabouts are a great tool to prevent frequent and unnecessary stopping- Asia and Europe use them in place of lights and stop signs in places where there would either be too much traffic backlog or alternatively, so little traffic that it makes sense to NOT have a stop sign or the cost of a traffic light.  Statistics show that stopping at lights and stop signs reduce fuel efficiency as well.  So, Europe and Asia may be on to something… not to mention every time you stop and then, accelerate or go, you are also increasing carbon emissions in the air. 

In any case, traffic circles from what I have noticed here in America in small towns, or even at major intersections are just a bad idea.  Not because we as Americans need to emit more Carbons but rather, despite the benefits of traffic circles, Americans just can’t navigate them!   Let’s face it, we’re bad drivers on average and then add in a traffic circle.  That’s a formula for disaster and increased accidents.  Not to mention, in my case, road rage.  

Traffic circles require the car entering (generally) to yield to traffic in the circle.  Okay, YIELD- this is a foreign concept to most Americans on the road.  After all, we can’t even merge onto a highway without some level of drama, how are we going to figure out who was in the circle and oh my god, where will they go in THAT circle?  I am not a mind reader after all.   Simply put, the fine intricacies of a traffic circle are lost on us Americans especially those who have not even left their hometown, or the country.  It is a confusing little device and often times, results in increased traffic accidents and fatalities.

I know, I navigate through one every time I go to pick or drop my child off.  I gotta say, it’s fun to watch despite my sheer frustration with the people entering and exiting it.  I think one afternoon I need to sit on the corner and videotape the happenings just to show you how little we know about navigating a traffic circle.  I used to live in Europe and drove in Europe and England (remember, these are the peoeple who drive on the “wrong” side of the road).  All in all, I have to say, I enjoyed traffic circles there and driving in them.   Sure, it was initially stressful, but really became great- no stop signs, no traffic lights.  You just go in and get out by turning on your blinker (right before your exit out of the traffic circle).  This lets people entering on the next exit know that you are turning so they can enter the circle.  It’s a great concept when used properly and employed properly by the drivers.  Of course, I had to go through a driving course and a driving test and learned how to properly drive in Europe through an instructional course.  This is before they would let me out on the roads and that amazing thing called an Autobahn.  

Since we do not teach traffic circles as part of driver’s ed in the USA, most of us will just have to rely on what we witness and employ habits that are probably otherwise wrong.  When we go to Europe or Asia and we get run off the road, we will know our habits were probably not right.  In any case, I write this because I am tired of people entering/exiting the traffic circle on McCaslin on the way to Hwy 36 in Superior.  Come on people!  Google the following “how to drive in a traffic circle” and learn all you can.   I did it for you so why wait? Here is an instructional video too from a guy teaches driving school.  Good Information- Check it out!

If you have an opinion, please share it here… I am curious to know what you think.

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