How safe are Butler County roundabouts? New report details results

The Butler County Engineer’s Office says its roundabouts are even safer than the national average as far as preventing crashes.

The engineer is in the process of constructing the office’s 14th roundabout at the Yankee and Princeton roads intersection, as part of the Yankee Road improvement that began earlier this month.

Roundabouts have become more common across the U.S. and particularly here in Butler County, where the first completed on a major county road was at Lakota Drive West and Eagleridge Drive.

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The engineer’s office compiled statistics and reported today that its roundabouts have resulted in:

• 60 percent reduction in overall crashes

• 80 percent fewer injury crashes

• 100 percent reduction in serious and fatal crashes

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This compares with a national average of 40, 75, and 90 percent respectively.

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens has noted that “we’ve indeed found the modern roundabout to be a safer, more efficient alternative to traditional intersections at certain locations. The number and severity of accidents have been substantially reduced where our roundabouts have been installed, so they are doing their job.”

There are many reasons why BCEO traffic engineers identify a roundabout to be a good solution to a problematic intersection. While not necessarily the answer for every intersection, a roundabout may be determined to be the least costly and most effective solution at certain locations due to the roundabout’s smaller “footprint,” which requires less land and right-of-way acquisition. Turn lanes can require more land acquisition, and ongoing operation of signals can drive up costs, engineers say.

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Moreover, there are the roundabout’s inherent safety features. Stop signs and signals do not guarantee that motorists will stop. Roundabouts act as traffic calming devices that force drivers to slow down. Any accidents that may occur are almost always less severe, supporters say.

Because roundabouts improve the efficiency of traffic flow, they also reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. During peak traffic hours roundabouts carry about 30 percent more vehicles than signalized intersections, resulting in less stopping, fewer delays, and better fuel efficiency, according to supporters.

Wilkens added that “roundabouts are not only safer, but we’ve found that motorists tend to like roundabouts over signalized or two-way/four-way stops because traffic continues to flow, albeit a bit slower, versus stopping and waiting for a light to change or for traffic to clear. And they feel safer.”

One Butler County motorist shared the following in a recent email to the BCEO:

“As a resident of Butler County, I would like to commend you on the installation of roundabouts for traffic flow at intersections. Having lived in the United Kingdom and Europe where they are extensively used, I find them safer and better assist the flow of traffic than regular stop intersections…. Keep up the good work.”

Butler County’s current roundabout count stands at 19 when including the county’s townships and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

New roundabouts coming

More roundabouts are being planned within the next three years, according to BCEO Traffic Engineer Matt Loeffler, including:

• Beckett Road at Smith Road

• Yankee Road at Millikin Road

• Hamilton Mason Road at LeSourdsville West Chester Road

• Hamilton Mason Road at Gilmore Road

• Ohio 73 at Jacksonburg Road (to be constructed by ODOT)

How to navigate through roundabouts

Wilkens office offered some tips about properly navigating in roundabouts.

• When approaching a roundabout, slow down and be prepared to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

• Pull up to the yield line, look to the left for approaching traffic within the roundabout. Remember, circulating traffic has the right-of-way. Entering traffic must yield the right-of-way to circulating traffic.

• Enter the roundabout when there is an adequate gap in circulating traffic. Proceed to your right. Vehicles travel counterclockwise around a raised center island.

• Once in the roundabout, drivers proceed counterclockwise to the appropriate exit, following the guidance provided by traffic signs and pavement markings. You now have the right-of-way and shouldn’t have to stop.

• Stay off the slightly raised truck apron unless needed by a larger turning radius vehicle.

• As you approach your exit, use your right turn signal if possible.

• Watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk and be prepared to yield.

• Slowly exit the roundabout.

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