Although the roundabout is still a thing in the USA, they’re not at all common. There are around 7000 across the whole country, which is nothing for a road network of that size - on our tiny British Isles, there are 25,000. They’re a part of daily driving life here, but in the US, many road users might happily drive around for years without ever encountering a roundabout.
That’s probably why Rowan County’s first-ever roundabout seems to have caused an incredible amount of confusion. Originally posted in the ‘IdiotsInCars’ Subreddit, the drone footage above shows numerous examples of drivers getting it very, very wrong. Thankfully there are no crashy consequences.
Drivers approaching on the wrong side of the road seems to be a common theme, and we can see cars going around in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. It’s a bit of a mess, on the whole.
As for why you’d chuck in a feature like this which many motorists will be unfamiliar with, it’s mostly down to safety. “We’re looking at a way to reduce the severity of crashes that this intersection has a history of,” Allen Blair of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 9 told local news outlet WKYT earlier this month. It’s a busy junction, with around 4000 cars a day using it.
Roundabouts are known to be safer than traffic light and stop sign-based intersections. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) cites numerous reports that indicate big reductions in accidents, including one that found crashes involving injuries went down by up to 80 per cent at sites where roundabouts were installed at intersections. There are also traffic flow benefits, which bring with them a reduction in emissions.
To the residents of Rowan County, we’re sure you’ll get used to your new roundabout in time. And just remember, it could be worse…