Cattle truck overturns on Hwy. 7 roundabout (News Log entry)
Civil Engineer Paul Kachelmyer — who is the designer of the roundabouts being installed on Highway 7 right now — recited several reasons why roundabouts were a good idea in the first place, starting with the four people killed and 88 people seriously injured over a 10 year period at the intersections in question along Highway 7, Co. Rd. 10 and Highway 10 (this does not count deaths and injuries at other locations elsewhere along the highway).
Roundabouts force people to slow down, and when an accident occurs, it’s usually a side-swipe nature at 20 mph, and not the broadside at 60 mph associated with the alternative, he said.
“Roundabouts are the safest traffic control in the world,” he said. A roundabout installed northeast of New Prague at Highway 13 and Co. Highway 2 (shown) — which has striking similarities when it comes to traffic and two major highways coming together — used to have the roughly the same accident rate. In the five years before the roundabout was built, two people killed and 50 injured. Now? Four minor accidents over a three year period. In fact, the City of New Prague loves the roundabouts so much they installed two more inside city limits and has plans for more.
Traffic signals, although usually first thought of as a simple cure for such a scenario, also have been proven to _not_ reduce traffic accidents; instead this figure would go up, he said. A four-way stop would normally reduce accidents, but the problem is that people don’t expect to find four-way stops in the middle of nowhere in the country.
And four-way stops generally are bottlenecks that slow people down, he noted. Stoplights also slow people down with a typical wait time of one minute. For roundabouts, the wait time is 10 seconds, he noted.