Roundabouts are designed to keep traffic flowing around the intersection continuously. However, most intersections with a significant amount of traffic volume will still utilize traffic signals due to the need for more than two lanes.
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A roundabout is typically the optimum solution for any intersection (up to 50,000 vehicles per day). Engineered to maximize safety and reduce traffic congestion, roundabouts reduce fatal and injury crashes, ease traffic congestion, and reduce energy costs. Since 2008, the Federal Highway Administration encourages public agencies, such as cities, counties, and state highway departments to use roundabouts.
Roundabout sizes vary depending on traffic volumes, capacity needs, intersection location/context, and the largest anticipated vehicle at the intersection along with other factors. Most “modern roundabouts” will have a diameter less than 180 ft. with some roundabouts, such as mini-roundabouts, having a diameter as small as 60 ft.
Roundabouts are a relatively new type of intersection as compared to conventional intersection control types (traffic signals and stop signs).
Many motorists that are not familiar with driving roundabouts can feel uneasy and concerned that other drivers may not follow the rules at a roundabout. Once motorists become familiar with safely driving through a roundabout, they will notice the improved traffic flow and feel at ease.
Since roundabouts are new to our area, please expect a short adjustment period as motorists get used to driving them. Some drivers may stop at the yield sign or need a larger gap in traffic than others before they proceed to enter the roundabout – this reinforces the safety aspect of a roundabout. Drivers can take their time and enter when they feel it is safe to do so.
Mini-roundabouts are a low-cost alternative to larger single-lane roundabouts. Since mini-roundabouts are smaller in size, their footprint takes up less space which means they can be installed at intersections that may not have a large public right-of-way.
Several mini-roundabouts exist in McKinney including within the Auburn Hills development and at the intersection of Rockhill Road and S. Graves Street.
There are guide signs and pavement markings located prior to the entrance to roundabouts that indicate the appropriate lane(s) for your desired direction of travel. While some lane assignments may change from one roundabout to another, typical driving rules apply:
Look for the white and black regulatory signs while approaching a roundabout that provide the lane assignment for the intersection.
Both vehicles have the right of way since there are two lanes within the roundabout.
Remember, yield to traffic circulating inside the roundabout in the lane you will occupy. Enter the roundabout only when there is a safe gap in traffic.
If you are approaching a roundabout at the same time as a semi-truck, yield and give way to the larger truck. Large trucks will often overtake both lanes of a two-lane roundabout. Always try to remain in a position behind a large truck where you can see their driver’s side mirror or passenger side mirror. Never enter a roundabout in the blind spot of a large truck.
Yes, roundabouts are safe for pedestrians.
In a typical roundabout, pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the roadway (not across the central island). If it is necessary for pedestrians to cross the roadway, they cross one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distances are relatively short and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections. The location of crosswalks at roundabouts are away from the main travel zone which provides motorists with more space and time to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Bicyclists entering the roundabout on the roadway must obey the rules of the road as a vehicle and follow the flow of traffic. Bicyclists should ride near the middle of the lane to remain visible to motorists.
Another option is for bicyclists to dismount and walk their bike on the sidewalks and crosswalks (like pedestrians).
Driving a roundabout takes practice for anyone. One benefit for inexperienced drivers is that roundabouts allow drivers to proceed at their own pace.
If you do not feel comfortable entering the roundabout due to certain vehicles that are already circulating inside the roundabout, you can wait for an appropriate gap in traffic before entering. Through practice and education, anyone can become comfortable driving through roundabouts.
Roundabouts are not appropriate everywhere. There are many factors when determining a proper location for a roundabout.
If you are already in the roundabout, continue driving to the next available exit, drive out of the roundabout and then pull over to the right side of the road and stop. This allows the emergency vehicle to safely pass.
Do not enter a roundabout when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Instead, move to the right and stop so the emergency vehicle can safely pass. The key is to make sure you are not an obstruction to an emergency vehicle.
Roundabouts are a relatively new type of intersection. There are many people who will be using a roundabout for the first time. Since roundabouts are new to our area, please expect a short adjustment period as motorists get used to driving them.
Roundabouts are carefully designed to accommodate all vehicles safely and effectively with large turning radii such as large trucks (semis), tractor-trailers, emergency vehicles and buses.
Roundabouts provide an area between the circulatory roadway and the central landscaped island, or “truck apron,” over which the rear wheels of these vehicles can safely track. The truck apron is typically composed of a colored and textured concrete to make it visible for drivers and to discourage routine use by smaller vehicles.