A car accident was narrowly avoided on the morning of Nov. 17 at the roundabout at Morse Boulevard and Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages. No collision occurred, but the motorist was ticketed because he reportedly failed to yield to a motorcyclist with the right of way. How can we drive safely through our city’s many roundabouts?
The issue of road safety is one of special concern to many Villagers, who feel worried about increased congestion due to development and returning snowbirds.
Why Are Roundabouts So Tricky?
This near-accident wasn’t caused by any particular issue with the roundabout at Morse Boulevard and Lake Sumter Landing — it’s the fact that the British-born roundabout, so prevalent in the United Kingdom, is unpopular and confusing to many in this country.
We’re used to traffic lights, stop signs, and other signals that provide concrete instructions, according to a BBC America article on why Americans don’t understand roundabouts. The requirement to yield to traffic circling the roundabout and necessity to judge traffic before moving into the circle feels foreign to us. Two-lane roundabouts only add to this confusion.
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Despite this fact, Florida is among the five states with the most roundabouts installed, so it’s important for Villagers to learn how to navigate them properly for the safety of everyone on the road.
Best Practices in Roundabouts
When people know how to drive properly in a roundabout, they really can make a difference to road safety. On average, there is a 35 to 47 percent decrease in all accidents and 72 to 80 percent decrease in injurious accidents when a roundabout is installed in place of a traffic intersection, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
So, how do you drive in a roundabout?
Reduce Your Speed and Yield
As you approach the roundabout, reduce your speed and prepare to yield to traffic that is already circling, but don’t come to a complete stop unless you absolutely have to, as it will slow traffic, advises Sumter County’s Guide to navigating roundabouts. Proceed into the roundabout only when traffic is clear.
Once You’re in the Circle, Keep Going
Once traffic is clear and you’re able to proceed into the circle, do not stop, as it could cause a rear end collision. Proceed to your desired exit to leave the roundabout.
Watch Out for Pedestrians and Golf Carts
When you’re exiting or entering a roundabout, be mindful of pedestrians that may be crossing the street and yield to them. In our city, golf carts will likely be crossing as well, and there is even a designated roundabout sign warning drivers at spots where pedestrians and golf carts frequently cross the road, according to the Sumter County guide.
In Roundabouts, Avoid:
When driving in a roundabout, avoid the following common mistakes that can often lead to accidents.
Know which lane you’re going to need drive on before you enter the roundabout. A simple rule of thumb dictates that you should use the left-hand lane if you are going to exit the roundabout more than halfway around, and use the right-hand lane if you plan to exit the roundabout less than halfway around. This helps to avoid traffic conflict.
When Making U-Turns, Stay in the Left-Hand Lane
Roundabouts make U-turn maneuvers safer and more convenient, but always remember to stay in the left-hand lane as you travel the circle if you do intend to make a U-turn. Otherwise, there may be traffic conflict when another motorist attempts to go straight through or turn right along the roundabout.
Unless you are trying to avoid a collision, absolutely never stop in the middle of a roundabout, says the Florida Department of Transportation. At best, this slows the flow of traffic and at worst, it could cause a serious collision. If you missed your exit at a roundabout, simply keep driving until you make another circle — never attempt to reverse.
But Accidents Can Still Happen
Regardless of your ability to navigate The Villages’ many roundabout, accidents can still happen if a less experienced or negligent motorist is on the road. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious accident caused by another driver’s careless mistake, we may be able to help.
Read more to learn how our car accident attorneys will fight to try to get you compensation you deserve after an accident. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.