Common Causes of Roundabout Accidents

Published on: 03/11/24 — In 

Roundabouts have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional intersections because they reduce excessive speeds and lessen the danger of left-hand turns. This makes them a safer option for motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. 

However, they can be quite difficult to navigate if you're not used to them. Drivers typically have to yield to other oncoming vehicles as they enter the roundabout which can lead to confusion and potential accidents if people don't pay attention. The rapid traffic flow within a compact space like a roundabout can make it more risky for pedestrians or cyclists who might find themselves in close contact with cars or fail to properly observe any oncoming traffic. 

If you or a loved one has been in a traffic circle accident, our personal injury attorneys at Ktenas Injury Attorneys can help you today. Our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers will help you file a claim to receive the maximum compensation for your losses including reimbursement for expensive costs for medical treatments. Call our law office at (312) 300-2515 for a free legal consultation today. 

Types of Roundabout Accidents That Can Occur

When used properly and with caution, circular intersections can be considerably less dangerous than regular intersections. Unfortunately though, distracted driving or confusion on when and how to drive through a roundabout can still put drivers at risk of injury or property damage.

There are many reasons roundabout accidents may occur including inadequate signage, unfamiliarity with traffic circles, misjudgment of vehicle speed, wrong lane usage, failure to yield to oncoming cars, lack of visibility, or distraction.

Inadequate Signage

Poor signage in roundabouts is a key to safety. Multi-lane roundabouts can become hazardous if not adequately marked with signs and pavement markings. Without clear-use signage, drivers are prone to enter the wrong lane or make sudden lane changes while traversing a roundabout; both of which increase the likelihood of serious accidents occurring.

Unfamiliarity with Traffic Circles

Traffic circles can be dangerous if drivers lack familiarity with the proper rules of operation since they are unique and require special knowledge to navigate safely. Unfamiliarity with traffic circles can be a major cause of roundabout crashes.

a photo of a traffic roundabout circle

When approaching a traffic circle, drivers should give priority to any vehicles already inside the circle. When entering the circle, drivers should travel in a counterclockwise direction and adjust their speed to match the flow of traffic. This can be a challenging experience for the driver if they have not been taught or have no previous experience.

Vehicle Speed Misjudgment

One of the most common causes of car accidents at roundabouts is misjudging the speed of oncoming traffic. When drivers approach a roundabout, they may become distracted or fail to slow down in time, leading them to cause an accident.

This often happens when drivers are not familiar with how roundabouts work and are unable to accurately gauge their speed as well as the speed of other cars. Because of this miscalculation, drivers can easily crash into an oncoming car if they're traveling at too high a rate of speed.

Wrong Lane Usage in a Roundabout

Using an incorrect lane in a roundabout can result in accidents. Drivers in a roundabout need to be aware of the proper lane they should be in. Accidents often occur when drivers incorrectly enter or exit a roundabout in the wrong lane. If you unexpectedly intersect with another vehicle while attempting entry or exit, a sideswipe crash may occur.

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It's best not to make lane changes within the circle if possible. If you need to change lanes and it is not possible to do so safely, it is recommended to continue circling the roundabout until it is safe to make the lane change, rather than risking an accident by rushing.

Failure to Yield to Oncoming Traffic

Entering a roundabout requires drivers to slow down and yield the right of way to any traffic already inside the roundabout. This is an important safety measure to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, as it prevents vehicles from entering the roundabout without looking for traffic already present. For instance, if a driver fails to yield the right of way while entering the roundabout and plows straight ahead regardless of any other cars on the road, a roundabout car accident can easily ensue. 

Lack of Visibility

Adequate visibility is of utmost importance around a roundabout to keep drivers and pedestrians safe. Proper lighting at critical points such as the entrances and exits should be used to ensure that drivers can see cars, bicyclists, or pedestrians in the area. Efficient lighting on the central island of the roundabout is also advantageous for drivers’ visibility to observe any fixed objects such as concrete barriers which may cause harm if not seen.

The insufficient visibility caused by inadequate lighting in a roundabout can contribute to serious traffic accidents due to unsafe driving methods from failure to perceive potential hazards. This unpredictability causes dangerous conditions for both drivers and pedestrians struggling with compromised sight lines.

Distracted Drivers

Driver distraction is a significant factor in roundabout accidents. The lack of focus impairs a driver's awareness of their surroundings and can lead to incorrect assumptions about who has the right of way in this type of intersection. A driver must remain vigilant at all times while navigating a roundabout to assess the speed of other vehicles and the traffic flow.

a man texting while driving

Drivers who are distracted by texting or using a cell phone may make sudden and unsafe lane changes without checking if it is safe to do so. Additionally, drivers may take the wrong exit or fail to adhere to lane markings, potentially resulting in a collision.

How to Avoid a Roundabout Accident

Roundabouts are becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce traffic congestion, but they come with their own set of crash risks. To stay safe when approaching or driving through a roundabout, drivers must pay attention and follow the rules of the roadway. 

Properly Understand the Rules of the Road

The most important rule when approaching a roundabout is that you must yield to any vehicles already in it. Once you start entering the circle, look for lane indicators to determine which lane is the correct exit lane.

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If the roundabout has multiple lanes, always choose the outer lane if you plan on making a right-hand turn at the nearest exit; conversely, use the inside lane for left turns and U-turns. Make sure to give yourself space to signal your upcoming exit and switch lanes without impeding upon other drivers in the roundabout.

Call Ktenas Injury Attorneys Today

If you have been involved in an accident, it is important to seek help from an experienced attorney. Accidents can cause serious physical, mental, and financial hardships that may require legal action to resolve. Ktenas Injury Attorneys strive to ensure that those affected by an accident get fair compensation for their injuries and property damage.

Our injury attorneys present a strong case using a comprehensive gathering of evidence, witness testimonies, medical care records, and other matters. We understand how costly and difficult it can be for accident victims; this is why we strive to utilize our experience to obtain the best possible outcome. Call Ktenas Injury Attorneys today for a free, initial consultation.