Traffic Circles and Roundabouts
December 1, 2011
Traffic circles and roundabouts are a type of road intersection that are gaining popularity throughout the nation. While not really a new idea, they seem to have become more prevalent over the past fifteen to twenty years as city planners and developers seek ways to keep traffic moving more smoothly and safely.
Traffic circles allow traffic to move more smoothly through an intersection without the use of traffic lights by use of a one way circle with “exits” to the intersecting roads. If you have never encountered one, they could be slightly intimidating at first but they are really quite simple and you will find they do keep traffic moving much more smoothly. They also keep the intersection safer by forcing traffic entering the circle to slow down and yield to traffic already in the circle. While traffic must slow to enter the circle, it doesn’t have to stop for red lights which can be especially frustrating when there is no traffic on the cross street.
Most traffic collisions in the US occur at intersections and the most common type of collisions are rear-end collisions. By slowing traffic on entering and keeping all traffic moving in the same direction, traffic circles cut down on the chances for collisions. With no traffic light, there is a zero chance of someone causing a collision by running a red light.
All traffic circles are designed basically the same way. The terms roundabout and traffic circles are often used interchangeably but traffic circles usually refer to larger, multi-lane circles. Traffic entering the circle must slow, wait for an opening in traffic and then enter to the right moving around the circle in a counterclockwise path. Once a driver reaches the “exit” to the road they want to enter, they exit the circle to the right.
If you live in a growing community, you may want to urge your city planners to consider more traffic circles to cut down on traffic congestion.
Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas
November 21, 2011
For those with long commutes to work and back and those who drive very little, the driving situation during the holidays can be a nightmarish situation. The holiday season is supposed to be about peace on earth and kindness to others but it seems that, once drivers get caught up in the holiday shopping rush, all of that goes out the window and it is every man for himself. To help you cope with the holiday driving situation and keep you safe on the road, here are a few reminders.
Planning – High gasoline prices have led many to consolidate trips to save money. That is also a good tip for the holiday season:
- Create and try to stick to a shopping list for everyone on your gift giving list. You’ll spend less time and money if you know exactly what you are after. Try to avoid browsing that will lead to impulse buying and keep you out longer.
- Shopping online can help you avoid going out into traffic. You can also order items online for pick-up at your local store so you can do a quick in –pickup – and out.
- Try to get all your shopping done in one or two days; that way you can relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday season.
- Shop early! Retailers are trying to lure customers with early sales so they aren’t stuck with a left over inventory.
- Plan on being stuck in traffic and allow yourself plenty of extra time. That way, you won’t be tempted to take chances behind the wheel and you won’t be as frustrated.
Dealing with other drivers – The frenetic pace of the holiday season seems to bring out the worst in some drivers. Don’t let a “Grinch” driver get to you.
- It seems as if no other time of the year results in as many clogged intersections. When drivers pull out into a clogged intersection and the light changes, everyone is stuck. If you can’t clear the intersection, remain behind the white stop line until the traffic ahead moves enough that you can get all the way across. Remember, if you are stuck in the intersection when the light changes, you could get an automatic ticket from a red light camera.
- Remember that you can’t take the right-of-way; you can only give it up to another driver. If someone tries to hog the right-of-way, give it to them. Fighting for the right-of-way or a parking spot isn’t worth the possibility of a collision or a road rage incident.
- Don’t try to retaliate against another driver by yelling, making gestures, or honking your horn. That type of behavior could tip someone over the edge into a road rage situation.
- Remember the F.I.D.O. principle. Forget It and Drive On. There is nothing you can do to change another driver’s behavior. Just let it go and keep out of their way.
Pedestrians – There will be a lot of pedestrians in parking lots and on the roads at this time of year.
- Remember that pedestrians always have the right-of-way.
- Small children are excited and even more impulsive at this time of year. Anticipate that they may run out into traffic.
- Pedestrians may be bundled up against the cold. Hats, mufflers and scarves may interfere with vision and hearing. Count on pedestrians not noticing your approach.
Distractions – As if the driving situation isn’t bad enough during the holiday season, distracted drivers make it worse.
- It is understood that you are in a rush, but try to avoid eating in the car while driving. Trying to eat and drink distracts us from the very important job of watching the road ahead. Giving yourself time to eat in a restaurant will allow you to relax and calm down before going back out into traffic.
- Put the cell phone away! Don’t try to use your cell phone and especially don’t text unless you are pulled safely off the road. Cell phone users tend to slow traffic and you don’t want to add to the congestion.
Have a happy and, above all, a safe holiday season with your loved ones.