I was in France the first time I saw a roundabout. It is a feature of the road and it is very cool. It is a circle instead of a four-way stop. It is very neat to watch and kind of scary to drive in. When you come to the roundabout there are cars already circling. You must watch the traffic and merge in with them turning right into the roundabout and then following counter clockwise around. You go around the circle until you see the street you want and then exit (if you miss your exit, just circle around and catch it the next time). It is fun. I really quite enjoyed it, but I also was thirteen and not driving.
There is one roundabout in my town and I love any excuse to drive through it. There is also one up in El Dorado Hills that I know of. I like the idea of roundabouts solely because they are foreign and therefore intriguing. Roundabouts are different than how we normally drive. They are very fluid with constant motion.
Researchers are now saying that this type of driving is beneficial in many ways. Of course, if you are not stopping and starting time and again, you will save gas. And apparently it makes a difference in the amount of pollutants that are released as well.
One of the most important aspects of any feature of the road is safety. Are roundabouts safe? Traffic engineers are saying that roundabouts are much safer than normal four-way stops. They have this opinion for a number of reasons including elimination of the “dangerous” left turn motion (in a roundabout, it’s really a slight veer to the left). They say that because the American people are unused to the navigation of a roundabout they will drive safer and not allow themselves to be distracted. I am unconvinced that unfamiliarity will make much of a difference in the way people drive, but I do love roundabouts for their aesthetic and practical aspects and I can’t wait to see more.
What do you think?