Roundabouts won’t kill you

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).

Video of ‘How to drive a roundabout’
A Blog entry about Hwys. 7 and 25 roundabout opening
MnDOT plans to tweak the roundabout designs (unhappy comments here)

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.


  1. [...] UPDATE: Civil engineer Paul Kachelmyer underlined numerous reasons why roundabouts are a good idea, especially on Highway 7. [...]

  2. New Germany Res. says:

    Mr. Engineer
    The picture you have posted of the roundabout on hwy13 and 2 in Prior Lake you can at least see thru, what’s coming at you, if there is another vehichle coming around or 1/4 mile down the road. At hwy 7 and 10 you have put a 8ft high aprox. mound of dirt so you can’t see what’s coming directly across from you and around the circle. It’s like getting blind sided or what ever you choose to call it. Why is this the choice for us? And 60mph roundabouts have been proven safe also, so why the 15mph roundabout on a highway that is going to keep increasing with traffic? Also I heard you are planning on planting Lilac bushes on this mound and I don’t think hwy 13 and 2 is a good comparison, there’s more traffic on hwy7. But it really doesn’t matter now, there here to stay for the time being…

  3. Anonymous Coward says:

    With the posted safe speed of 20 mph, I can only imagine how traffic will back up approaching the roundabouts. I’ve driven the one south of Watertown a few times now, and I was already shocked by the level of traffic coming through (between 5:00 and 5:30 PM). North-south traffic came to a stand-still because of the number of cars entering the roundabout from the east. I still believe the thing will be a death trap when we have ice storms, unless a truck is stationed there on a nearly full-time basis.

  4. New Germany Res. says:

    Mr. Engineer
    Waiting for your reply. Why not a 6o mph. roundabout on a 60mph. highway.I believe that’s why they have 60mph. roundabouts is for 60mph highways. Why the mound of dirt, so we can’t see what’s coming. I question your engineering skills or who ever told you to design this. This week I was at a stand still on hwy. 7 & 10 waiting for cars to enter the round about going west and the highway isn’t even open for traffic yet.

  5. HikingStick says:

    The problem I foresee is that, while the safe speed is posted at 20 mph, some people will try to take the roundabout like a country corner.

    I also fear the days when we have ice on that roundabout.

  6. al says:

    How is a roundabout designed to give the flow of traffic when the hiway does carry considerable large truck traffic? Like the large unit that could not make the round and stuck himself blocking one entrance and one exit? are these vehicles ignored in planning and hopes are they in time will not use #15.As far as I know nobody was injured, but allot of time wasted, fuel wasted in the backup, a late delivery, and cost to repair the roundabout. Accidents can and do happen even in roundabouts, there is a learning curve with these things. Although I don’t feel the curve here is big enough to accommodate the traffic

  7. Winsted Resident says:

    I have only gone through the roundabout on Hwy 7 and 10 twice. Both times we were at a standstill on Hwy 7 with 10 – 15 cars in front of me. It took a lot longer than the 10 seconds mentioned above, more like 5 to 8 minutes and the highway isn’t even open yet.

  8. HikingStick says:

    The recently reported problems accomodating large truck traffic shows that MnDOT did not adequately review local traffic patterns before adopting someone’s pet project. How long will this thing be in use before they decide to rip it out and try something else?–at taxpayer expense, of course!

  9. The Roundabout About Face says:

    I heard a rumor last night that they might have to tear up the roundabouts and make them bigger. Anyone else heard
    this? Also heard that MDOT might not get the Hwy 7 project
    completed before the winter season.

  10. CentralMNGuy says:

    I utilize these roundabouts on HWY 7 everyday. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of them.

    I’m as impatient as the next driver; when I get on the road in the morning or at night, I want to get to work or home. I don’t want to have to slow down to 20MPH. But what I will say is, if the speed limit was any greater, I’d be taking a alternate route everyday, regardless if it added time to my already long commute. Frankly, I am shocked at the number of clueless people that travel through these intersections everyday. It’s not rocket science! If you’re struggling with them, put the cell phone down and pay attention.

    Also, to “Winsted Resident” that posted above…If it took you 5-8 minutes to go through a roundabout, my guess is, you fall in that “clueless people” category. Eventually you gotta “turn right” or else you’ll be stuck in that bad-boy all day long ;)

    I do agree with the other posters above though. I’ve got a feeling it could become dicey there in the winter. We all know how HWY “blows” in the winter. I guess time will tell. We’ll debate next Spring.

    In closing, the point of the project was to make HWY 7 safer regardless of what your opinions are. These two intersections are by far, the busiest on HWY 7. I truly believe the roundabouts will make it a much safer road. For those complaining about slowing down, ask a family member of someone who perished at these intersections, what their opinions of them are. My guess is, they’d opt for the roundabout every single time.

  11. Winsted Resident says:

    CentralMNGuy what was I suppose to do hit the 10 cars in front of me that weren’t moving? If you would have read a little closer you would of seen I was stuck on “HWY 7″ not in the round about.

  12. New Germany Res. says:

    I have a question for the engineer, DOT. When there is a accident at these 20mph. roundabouts this winter and it will happen despite the 20mph. How is the traffic suppose to get around the accident with only one lane? Because of that huge mound of weeds you can’t see thru to even go the other way to get past the roundabout if you wanted if no oncoming traffic was coming. Along with emergency vehicles wanting to get thru, it would be blocked or very difficult for them to get thru to get some where on hwy 7. So when there is an accident does everybody just sit there for a minor fender bender because you can’t pass by, whats your answer to this. I don’t beleive you’ve done your home work desining these roundabouts or the DOT in Hutchinson. I’d never hire you after seeing your work….although I would have never given the okay for a 1 lane roundabout at 20mph. on a 60mph. highway. Still waiting for a reply….

  13. Winsted Res says:

    I heard some interesting things while talking to a group of people about roundabouts. One guy from England said in Europe they are in the process of eliminating them because they cause so much traffic congestion and drivers hate them. Another one said that the US tried roundabouts in the 1950′s and dropped the idea because drivers hated them so much. Now here is is almost 60 years later and they are bringing them back, with traffic at least twice what it was in the 50′s. I guess they are putting them all over the place in Richfield and people are taking different routes to avoid them. That is one way to cut down on traffic on any given road. Then the roundabouts work because people take the side streets instead, eventually moving the problem from the main roads to the residential roads.

  14. No Best Buy says:

    So much for just fender benders in our roundabouts.

    An overturned truck is causing traffic to be snarled in Watertown. The accident happened at the intersection of Highway 7 and County Road 10 in Watertown.

    A semi truck hit a roundabout and flipped onto its side at that intersection at approximately 6 a.m. Monday. The roundabout is new at Highway 7 and County Road 10.

    The truck was heading west on Highway 7 towards Hutchinson hauling some plastic powder for 3M. The load did not spill in the accident.

    The driver suffered non-life threatening injuries in the accident. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

    Traffic is closed going north on County Road 10 from Highway 7 while officials try to clear the accident

  15. HikingStick says:

    When I drove past one of them last week, they were planting shrubs and plants on the mounds. That will only serve to make them taller, and to act like a snow-fence on the downwind side (meaning a clear patch with drifts building on either edge). I’m not sure I want to be driving on these during the winter–time to start picking an alternate route to St. Boni.

  16. New Germany Res. says:

    HikingStick is right about the snow fence with the Lilac bushes they planted and everybody but the DOT seems to now what that will do to driving these Roundabouts the way the wind blows across Hwy 7. It seems we do have the “DUMB & DUMBER TEAM” designing this project. How much of our money will it take to correct this goverment waste of tax payer money…But we like paying more taxes don’t we, we don’t need the money, give more to the DOT. (DUMB & DUMBER TEAM)

  17. [...] POSTS: Roundabouts won’t kills you Video of ‘How to drive a roundabout’ (16 comments) A Blog entry about Hwys. 7 and 25 [...]

  18. [...] POSTS: Roundabouts won’t kill you (16 comments) Video of ‘How to drive a roundabout’ (23 comments) A Blog entry about Hwys. 7 and 25 [...]

  19. New Germany Res. says:

    I hope this site is still on when the first good snow fall comes and Hwy.7 is open. I think theres going to be alot of upset(nice way of putting it)commuters. I been driving Hwy.7 to work for 10 years and if these roundabouts were east of Cty Rd.10 it would even be better because which ever DOT. dept. plows and salts west of 10 can’t seem to get up in the morning and takes alot of breaks or something. Because it almost always hasn’t been plowed or salted west of 10, east of 10 is great they do a really good job, whether it’s 5:30AM or 4:30PM.

  20. [...] 2008 – A Winsted native is part owner of the chic shop Lillians in Nisswa, a video of “How to drive a roundabout” is posted, and a benefit is set for Natalie Roufs, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Also, [...]

  21. Answers says:

    A cattle trailer from South Dakota overturned in Carver County late Sunday night. Authorities say the trailer was on Highway 7 when it hit a roundabout at Highway 25 Sunday night.

    Here we go again.

  22. Winsted Res says:

    Now we don’t have to worry about car drivers being hurt or killed in accidents, just the semi-drivers. What makes one more important than the other?

  23. [...] Roundabouts won’t kill you: Civil engineer Paul Kachelmyer underlined numerous reasons why roundabouts are a good idea, especially on Highway 7. [...]

  24. Worked on HWY 7-winsted-resident says:

    I have been reading these posts and it cracks me up!! I personally think that round-abouts are a BAD idea!!! especially with the enormous mound in the middle!!! I worked on this project this past summer driving truck for the road crew, and it is difficult to get a semi thru these i can only imagine and oversized load!!!
    as for the yielding, nobody knows how to do that!! you have all made good points about the round-about and i agree with them!! i have had many complaints made to me about them as well, but we just pave it we dont design the road… as for the engineer on this project i agree with the above in the ‘DUMB AND DUMBER’ team.. there was no thought process at all, all i can say is thank god its bigger than the one in Hutchinson!! i just wanted to give kudos to those that disagree with these blind round abouts, as a construction worker i hate them.. MR ENGINEER, we are in MINNESOTA of the USA we dont live in EUROPE!!!!