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State: Roundabouts reduce crashes

Published September 21. 2019 07:40AM

The roundabouts in the works for Brodheadsville are just two out of many new traffic circles sprouting up across the state.

One was built in 2012 at Route 209 and Seven Bridge Road in Smithfield Township. Another was finished last year at Exit 310 off Interstate 80 in Delaware Water Gap Borough.

Two are planned for I-80 Exit 308 in East Stroudsburg.

Statewide, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has already built 48 roundabouts, and is currently designing over 40 more.

Roundabouts help traffic move more easily, but most importantly they’re safer, PennDOT said.

In a report released this month, PennDOT announced that crash reports have gone down significantly at 19 intersections where it replaced traditional stop signs or signals with roundabouts.

“You’re in the safest intersection you can be in when you’re in a roundabout,” said PennDOT spokeswoman Jan Huzvar.

Roundabouts should now be the first choice when PennDOT is designing a new intersection, Huzvar said. But there are reasons for not putting in a roundabout in some locations.

PennDOT reviewed data from 19 roundabouts that have been installed at 16 locations in Pennsylvania from 2000-2018.

The report compared crash data from three years before and after the roundabouts were built.

The total number of crashes decreased from 138 to 91. Of these:

• Fatalities decreased from two to zero.

• Suspected serious injuries decreased from 10 to one.

• Suspected minor injuries decreased from 24 to five.

• Injuries of unknown severity decreased from 70 to 13.

• Crashes in which only property was damaged slightly increased from 69 to 76.

Not only did the number of crashes decrease, but the data shows that a higher percentage of these crashes only caused property damage rather than causing injury.

Huzvar said that some people unfamiliar with roundabouts are concerned, because cars don’t have to stop before the intersection anymore.

But the truth is that roundabouts are actually safer, Huzvar said.

“It keeps traffic flow going,” she explained. “You’re actually saving time, and the congestion is reduced, because there’s nobody backing up behind you or coming onto you. You’re just going with the flow of traffic very slowly and safely.”

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