KENNEWICK, Wash.— Studies show roundabouts are safer than traditional stop signs or signal-controlled intersections. Kennewick police reports show the same is true of traffic circles in our area.
"The traffic unit here at the Kennewick police department has been able to determine that the roundabouts that we have in the intersections have dramatically reduced the number of collisions in those intersections," said Ofc. Shirrell Veitenheimer.
Traffic officers explained roundabouts help reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions because there's no light to beat, drivers are traveling at slower speeds, and the one-way travel eliminates the possibility for T-Bone and head-on crashes.
"We're seeing less damage to the vehicles as well as less injuries when people do get in accidents," Veitenheimer said.
Studies by the Federal Highway Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show roundabouts achieve a 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, 75 percent reduction in injury, 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes, and 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions.
"I've lived here long enough to where I saw the 4-way stop signs, and then I saw the roundabout come in,” Matt Williams explained about the traffic circles on Union St. “They've definitely taken some getting used to, but they're much more efficient than 4-way stop sign intersection."
Williams works as a driving instructor at Premier Driving School. He said he uses the roundabout right outside his workplace as an example for students of what not to do.
"Mostly it’s the people not the roundabout that causes the problems,” he said.
Williams admits drivers fail to yield at times, but he says he's noticed roundabouts on union have greatly decreased the number of collisions.
"There was always either crashes at 4th and Union, when I was driving through or you could see the evidence of a crash with broken glass and bumper and such on the side walk," he said.
As a driving instructor and as a father, Williams said he's grateful the roundabouts have improved safety on the roadways.
"Especially as a person who myself, my kids, and my wife all drive through them, I love the fact that the crashes are reduced," he said.
Police encourage drivers to follow the rules of yielding, slowing and stopping at round-a-bouts to continue to drive collision numbers down.
As for the rules which govern the use of a traffic circle; RCW 46.61.190(3) states that a driver must slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions and if required for safety to stop, shall stop before entering the intersecting roadway. In this case the intersecting roadway is the traffic circle itself. After slowing or stopping the driver must yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection.