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Too Many Accidents At Region's Largest Roundabout
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A whopping 49 car accidents have occurred in the first three months that the Region’s larges roundabout has been open. According to The Record, that number far exceeds the so far most dangerous one in Kitchener at Home Watson and Block line that opened with 34 accidents in its first three months. The Region’s planners are trying to figure out why that is.

The Region is monitoring the fender benders at the accident, and they are optimistic that the accident rates will fall as more people become accustomed to using the turning circles. Many, including Mayor Craig, feel that the problem with the roundabouts is the drivers and their driving. We are simply not accustomed to using the circles, and lack the discipline and experience required to use them.

The circle at Pinebush has three lanes which may make it too confusing for drivers who have never used one before.  Traffic circles are used throughout the world and they are proven to improve traffic flow and to reduce serious accidents. They may make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross though. Although cars are required to stop and yield to pedestrians it appears few do.

The statistics are clear. In the first 109 days of its operation there were only two people injured in the car crashes. One minimally, and one minor injury occurred in the 49 accidents. This is a low rate of personal injury, but a high accident rate.

Once again, here are the rules for using the turning circles from the Region of Waterloo website:

How to Drive in a Roundabout

When approaching and travelling through a roundabout slow down.  Observe the lane signs and choose the correct entry lane.  Wait for a gap in traffic before entering the roundabout.  Remember to yield to traffic in the roundabout because drivers in the roundabout always have the right-of-way.  Do not pass other vehicles in the roundabout and give large vehicles extra space because they might use both lanes.

 Quick List of things to Remember:

  1. Slow down.
  2. Look and plan ahead.
  3. Pedestrians go first.  When entering or exiting a roundabout, yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk.
  4. Look to the left, yield to all traffic in the roundabout, find a safe gap, and then go.
  5. Don't pass vehicles in a roundabout.
  6. Signal when entering and leaving the roundabout.

Choosing your Lane in a Roundabout

Reducing your speed when approaching a roundabout will give you time to choose the right lane. Watch for signs and road markings that help you decide what exit to take and what lane to be in. The following applies unless signs or road markings indicate otherwise:   

 

If you are turning right

  • Enter from the right lane.
  • Travel in the outer lane of the roundabout.
  • Exit directly from the right lane.

 

If you are driving straight through (black and yellow arrows in picture below):

  • You may enter from either the left or the right lane.
  • Exit directly from the lane you are in.

If you are turning left (yellow arrow in picture below):

  • Enter from the left lane.
  • Travel in the inner lane of the roundabout.
  • Exit directly from the inner lane.

Signalling at a Roundabout

A roundabout is similar to an intersection with signals you need to signal the direction in which you are going to take.  When turning right, you need to signal right, when going straight you don't signal, and when turning left or doing a U-turn you signal left.  The only difference is that whenever you exit a roundabout you need to signal right to show you are exiting.  Below are step by step directions on how to signal:

Turning Right

  1. Signal right as you approach the roundabout in the right-hand lane.
  2. Maintain your signal through the roundabout and stay in the right-hand lane.
  3. Maintain your signal as you exit in the right-hand lane.

Going Straight

  1. Do not signal as you approach the roundabout and select the appropriate lane.
  2. Stay in this lane until you need to exit the roundabout.
  3. Signal right prior to your exit, and exit from the lane you are in.

Turning Left

  1. Signal left as you approach the roundabout in the left-hand lane.
  2. Maintain your signal through the roundabout and stay in the left-hand lane.
  3. Signal right prior to your exit, and exit in the left-hand lane.
  4. Going full circle (U-turn)
  5. Signal left as you approach the roundabout in the left-hand lane.
  6. Maintain your signal through the roundabout and stay in the left-hand lane.
  7. Signal right prior to your exit, and exit in the left-hand lane.
  8. Image showing how a roundabout is the same as a square intersection

What if an emergency vehicle comes through the roundabout?

  1. Do not stop inside the roundabout.
  2. If you have not yet entered the roundabout, pull to the right and let the emergency vehicles pass you.
  3. If you are in the roundabout, exit as normal, then pull to the right and let the emergency vehicle pass you.

Tips for Drivers of Larger Vehicles

When approaching a roundabout, straddle the entry lanes.  Use both lanes in the roundabout.  Don't try to leave space for another vehicle to pass you.

  1. Think ahead and look ahead.
  2. Pedestrians go first. When entering or exiting the roundabout, drivers should yield the crosswalk to pedestrians.
  3. Don't pass a vehicle that is slowing down as it approaches a crosswalk. There may be a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
  4. Don't block the crosswalk.
  5. If you think you don't have enough time to watch for pedestrians, slow down. Don't accelerate until you are past the crosswalk at your exit.

How to Walk in a Roundabout

Step to the curb and point your finger across the crosswalk, look and listen for a safe gap in traffic flow.  Do not start to cross if the driver cannot safely stop.  As you cross, keep pointing until you reach the far side of the road.  Remember to watch for drivers in the next lane to ensure the driver sees you crossing. 

Pedestrians cannot cut across to the middle of the roundabout.  You need to use the sidewalks and crosswalks around the outside of the roundabout.  Pedestrians wait on the splitter island if needed until there is a gap in the traffic flow.

Quick List of things to Remember:

  1. Step to the curb and point your finger across.
  2. Look and listen for a safe gap in traffic flow.
  3. Do not cross until the driver stops.
  4. Keep and make eye contact with drivers in all lanes.
  5. Do not cross across the middle of the roundabout.
  6. Wait on the splitter island.
  7. Pedestrians at Roundabouts compared to a Signalized Intersection

At a roundabout:

  1. The crossing distance is shorter.
  2. The slower speeds mean drivers have more time to judge and react to pedestrians.
  3. The pedestrian watches for traffic in just one direction at a time.
  4. Drivers can focus on vehicles and pedestrians around them, without a traffic signal diverting drivers' attention upward.
  5. Drivers are more likely to look toward pedestrian pathways. By comparison, turning at a traffic signal drivers are often watching for conflicting traffic
  6. (for example: looking left while turning right).
  7. Drivers and pedestrians are more likely to be alert and aware of each other because both have to decide when to go.

Tips for Pedestrians

Drivers are more likely to yield the crosswalk to you if your body language shows you intend to cross.

  1. Walk to the crosswalk briskly and deliberately.
  2. Look at the drivers - make eye contact.
  3. Start to cross as soon as you are sure that the driver intends to slow or stop.
  4. Good Body Language

Use the following assertive body language to communicate your intention:

  • Poor Body Language
  • Drivers are more likely Not to yield the crosswalk if you exhibit the following passive body language:
  • Scan for a gap in traffic as you come up to the crosswalk.              
  • Not looking at drivers.
  • Approach the crosswalk briskly and deliberately.              
  • Walking slowly up to the crosswalk or standing on the sidewalk back from the curb.
  • Point across the crosswalk.         
  • Standing with your hands on your hips.
  • Make eye contact with approaching drivers.       
  • Setting down your grocery bags.
  • Start to cross as soon as you are sure the driver intends to slow or stop to yield the crosswalk to you.               
  • Playing with your cell phone or music player.
  • Beginning muscle stretches if you have jogged up to the intersection and seem to be filling in time.
  • Not taking advantage of an appropriate gap in traffic to start crossing.
  • Waiving drivers on.
  • Hesitating and not starting to cross even if a vehicle slows to yield the crosswalk to you.

How to Bike in a Roundabout

A cyclist has two choices at a roundabout.  Your choice will depend on your degree of comfort riding in traffic:

For Experienced cyclists

  1. Ride as if you were driving a car.
  2. Merge into the travel lane before the bike lane or shoulder ends.
  3. Ride in the middle of your lane; don't hug the curb.
  4. Use hand signals and signal as if you were a motorist:

 Turning Right

  1. Signal right as you approach the roundabout.
  2. Maintain your signal through the roundabout.
  3. Maintain your signal as you exit.

    Going Straight

  1. Do not signal as you approach the roundabout.
  2. Signal right prior to your exit only.

    Turning Left

  1. Signal Left as you approach the roundabout.
  2. Maintain your signal through the roundabout.
  3. Signal right prior to your exit.

    Going full circle (U-turn)

  1. Signal left as you approach the roundabout.
  2. Maintain your signal through the roundabout.
  3. Signal Right prior to your exit.
  4. Watch out for drivers' blind spots.

For Less Confident Cyclists

  1. Dismount and walk your bicycle.
  2. Follow tips for pedestrians:
  3. Step to the curb and point your finger across.
  4. Look and listen for a safe gap in traffic flow.
  5. Do not cross until the driver stops.
  6. Keep and make eye contact with drivers in all lanes.
  7. Do not cross across the middle of the roundabout.
  8. Wait on the splitter island.
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018 - 07:51:00 AM EST
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