EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a second in a four-part series looking at the city of Green's plans to build more traffic roundabouts in the city. This part looks at the safety benefits of roundabouts.
GREEN Navigating a roundabout may be a new task to some, but those who live in Green should be becoming more used to them.
Green Engineer Paul Pickett said navigating a roundabout is as simple as looking to the left and finding a gap. For multi-lane roundabouts, the right lane or curb lane is designed for the first two exits or streets off of a roundabout. A motorist wishing to go to the third exit or turn completely around wants to use the left lane.
Pickett said the confusing part for some people may be making real time moving decisions rather than sitting at a red light waiting for it to turn green. He said entering a roundabout is much like merging onto the interstate and looking for a gap.
"If it is familiar, it shouldn’t be confusing," Pickett said.
He also said the fact that roundabouts are different confuse some people.
"They should be less different to people in Green," Pickett said.
Safety is the driving force behind why the city has considered roundabouts for several intersections and have plans for more in the future. Accidents can still occur in a roundabout, but they are less likely to be fatal, and Pickett said it is a no brainer to use a tool that reduces fatal crashes.
The Federal Highway Administration report a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, a 76 percent reduction in injuries and a 35 percent reduction in all crashes occur when a roundabout is constructed. A signalized intersection has 32 conflict points compared to eight in a roundabout. A conflict point is where a crash could occur.
Traffic signals require upkeep by replacing bulbs and there is a lot of hardware that can malfunction. Pickett said traffic signals are intended to go into flash mode if something goes wrong. An advantage to roundabouts is they function when the power goes out. Pickett, however, said some of the major intersections that have traffic signals in the city have a battery backup.
He also said another advantage is there is less wait time, which helps not only the environment, it helps drivers use less gasoline waiting for a traffic signal to change.
Green has two roundabouts, one at Steese and Massillon roads and one at Lauby and Greensburg roads.
The multi-lane roundabout at Steese opened in 2009, and yielding has been the biggest issue, Pickett said.
"Massillon Road south traffic feels like they dominate and they aren’t slowing down enough," Pickett said.
Other than not yielding, Pickett said overall the roundabout has worked well.
The single-lane roundabout at Lauby Road opened in 2015.
"The Lauby Road one is small and it forces people to slow down," Pickett said. "That is the reason people don’t like it."
Pickett said it was intended to be designed small to help slow people down passing through that area. Installation of the roundabout came following a rising number of accidents occurring and the difficulty of traffic turning left from Lauby Road onto Greensburg Road. On a daily basis many trucks use the roundabout and they go up on the curb, but it was designed that way and is known as a truck apron. Pickett said from what he has heard, trucks aren't having issues navigating the roundabout.
There is a drawback to roundabouts and Pickett isn’t afraid to admit it. He said if a disable vehicle or an accident occurs in the circle, it can shut down the entire road.
"There is no question that is a downside," Pickett said.
Repaving or restriping a roundabout would always occur at night Pickett said to help avoid high volumes of traffic.