Roundabouts are not common in most American roadways. However, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has been utilizing roundabouts for over a decade and are in process of building and planning to implement more roundabouts across the state.
Thus, Louisiana drivers need to familiarize themselves with the rules of how to use a roundabout.
What Are Roundabouts?
Roundabouts are one-way circular intersections where traffic flow moves through a center island in a counterclockwise manner.
Roundabouts are designed to enhance the flow of traffic for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Roundabouts are also adapted to improve traffic safety by redirecting some of the conflicting traffic that causes crashes to traditional intersections.
What Are The Benefits of a Roundabout?
There are numerous benefits to adapting roundabouts. Some of these benefits of a roundabout include:
- They can improve safety by eliminating severe crashes since those entering the roundabouts must stop and yield to those already in the roundabout. According to the studies conducted by DOTD, a roundabout is an effective safety traffic tool. Specifically, they found that fatalities were prevented by up to 90%, injury crashes by 76%, and pedestrian crashes by about 30% to 40%.
- They can enhance the flow of traffic with less stop-and-go than a traditional traffic light intersection.
- Compared to a traffic light intersection, a roundabout can help decrease vehicles’ fuel consumption and carbon emissions by reducing vehicle delay and duration of stops.
- They eliminate the costs to install and maintain signal equipment, including electricity costs.
- They can provide an average of 25-year service life compared to a 10-year service life of a traditional traffic light signal.
How Do You Properly Use a Roundabout?
According to the DOTD, the proper way of using a roundabout are as follows:
- Look for the roundabout sign, which is a yellow sign with three arrows forming a circle in a counterclockwise manner. This sign would indicate that a roundabout is approaching.
- Slow down to 10-15 mph as you approach the roundabout and yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- Always watch out for bicyclists that are merging into the travel lane, and let them merge.
- Yield to the vehicles on the roundabout as they have the right of way.
- Once there is a safe gap in the traffic, slowly enter the roundabout and do not pass bicyclists ahead of you.
- Once in the roundabout, do not stop in the roundabout until you get to your exit.
- Once you are approaching your exit, use your right turn signal to inform others that you are exiting the roundabout. Watch out for pedestrians as they have the right of way in the crosswalk.
How Should Bicycle Riders Use a Roundabout?
Bicyclists are expected to use a roundabout in the same manner as their automobile driver counterparts. Bicyclists should refer to the instructions listed above on how to use a roundabout properly.
In addition to the instructions above, the following tips apply to bicyclists using a roundabout:
- If you are riding on the shoulder or bike lane, you should merge into the travel lane before the shoulder ends by moving slowly and signaling your intention to merge into the traffic.
- If you do not want to ride your bicycle in the roundabout, you can use the sidewalk and travel through the roundabout as a pedestrian. If you do, see below for pedestrian rules.
- Once you are in the roundabout, it is essential to remember the following: do not hug the curb, ride close to the middle of the lane to prevent cars from passing you, and watch for vehicles waiting to enter the roundabout.
How Should Pedestrians Use a Roundabout?
To safely walk through a roundabout, a pedestrian must adhere to the following instructions:
- They must use the designated crosswalk in the roundabout and never on the central island or the roundabout itself.
- They must cross one lane at a time to the splitter island and not walk through both the entry and exit lanes. By stopping at the splitter island, the pedestrian can assess the ongoing traffic before crossing the road safely.
- They must watch for oncoming traffic when crossing an entry lane, even if the pedestrian has the right of way in the crosswalk.
- They must watch for cars and bicycles leaving the roundabout when crossing the exit lane, even if the pedestrian has the right of way in the crosswalk.
Even though pedestrians have the right of way in the roundabout, it is important to be alert and cautious of the oncoming traffic to prevent accidents.
Can Trucks or Large Vehicles Use a Roundabout?
Yes, they can.
Roundabouts accommodate all land motor vehicles, including trucks, buses, or other large vehicles. In fact, the part of the roundabout called the Truck Apron, which is the area between the circulatory roadway and the central island, is designed for the rear wheels of these large vehicles to safely track to accommodate their large turning radius.
Who Has The Right of Way In a Roundabout?
Among automobile drivers and bicycle riders, the priority rule is that whoever inside the roundabout has the right of way over any driver entering the roundabout, regardless of the direction they are coming from. Thus, every entrance to the roundabout has a yield sign.
However, it is essential to note that the pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk, regardless of whether the automobile driver or bicycle rider is entering or exiting the roundabout.
If you have been involved in an accident in a roundabout in Louisiana, you should speak with us. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have extensive knowledge in representing the interest of our clients in traffic accidents. Please feel free to give us a call at (225) 963-9638, or you can click here to contact us about a free consultation.