Traffic engineers in New Jersey and across the United States are continually looking for ways to lower the risks that drivers and passengers face on the roadways. This is especially true for intersections, as the conjunction points of roads can be some of the most dangerous locations as cars come together from different directions, sometimes at higher rates of speed. Drivers are aware that the risk at intersections often exceeds that elsewhere on the roads, but the points are often the location for fatal crashes or accidents causing serious injury.
One change that has shown significant potential to cut the risk to human life at roadway intersections is the construction of roundabouts as a substitute for traditional perpendicular intersections. A study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation examined 144 roundabouts throughout the state, including both urban and rural locations that receive a significant amount of traffic. The results of the study were striking; fatal crashes fell by 86 percent following the construction of the roundabouts. Other types of bodily injury saw similar reductions at the crossings with roundabouts, as serious injury crashes fell by 83 percent, and all crashes causing injuries declined 61 percent at single-lane roundabouts.
The results were not entirely positive; property damage accidents, in which car damage is recorded but no injuries to drivers or passengers, spiked upward with the construction of roundabouts. This type of crash grew by 75 percent at single-lane roundabouts. Researchers attributed the significant decline in bodily injury and death to the near-elimination of T-bone accidents due to the roundabouts, whose structure should prevent any car’s front end from colliding squarely with the side of another vehicle.
Of course, roadway construction can work to mitigate dangers, but it cannot eliminate the risks posed by drunk, distracted or negligent drivers. People who have been injured in car accidents due to others may benefit from a consultation with a personal injury lawyer for counsel and representation in seeking compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills and other expenses incurred as a result.