Monday, July 20, 2015

Traffic Circles/Roundabouts

Driver circles the roundabout Tuesday while another driver waits to merge from Belfast River Road. (Photo by Paul Floeckher)
Whatever you call them you find them all over England and the rules are simple, the cars in the circle have the right of way.  And if there is more than one lane of traffic in the circle you pick the one that matches your exit.  We love them, not the least because if we miss our exit we can go around the circle again and pick it up.
Now, our little backwoods town (we don't live in Savannah, just near it) has decided that a traffic circle is just what we need to reduce traffic tie-ups near some government offices.  It's nearly complete, lots of warning signs about the new traffic plan, lots of traffic cones to direct you into the circle and guess what, it's a mess.
It's just down from the local fire station and one of the country commissioners observed the circle has reported people entering the circle going in the wrong direction, and so requested that traffic  cones be set up to help,
Here's what the paper says.

New roundabout causing some confusion

July 15, 2015 7:44 p.m.

The roundabout at Highway 144 and Belfast River Road should be finished on schedule, according to county officials. 

The traffic circle’s paving has been completed, and temporary road markings have been painted. Workers started installing the curbing separating the roundabout’s lanes Wednesday and will “probably be done by the end of the week with the project,” County Engineer Kirk Croasmun said at Tuesday night’s Bryan County Board of Commissioners meeting. 

Commissioners are now shifting their concern to ensuring that drivers use the roundabout correctly. 

“They have to understand the right-of-way,” Commissioner Steve Myers said. “The guy in the circle has the right-of-way.” 

A driver who pulls up to the traffic circle is supposed to wait for an opening in traffic and then turn right to enter the roundabout. The driver then is to make another right turn onto one of the circle’s exit roads. 

However, Myers said he observed the roundabout for a couple hours from the nearby fire station and counted five cars that turned the wrong way onto the traffic circle. The drivers were eastbound on Highway 144 and, accustomed to turning left to enter the South Bryan County Administrative Complex, made left turns onto the roundabout to access Capt. Matthew Freeman Drive. 

“I could not believe what they were doing,” Myers said. 

“You could hit somebody head-on,” Commissioners Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said. 

Myers explained that he and fellow Commissioner Carter Infinger asked the work crew to place barrels around the circle to help direct the flow of traffic. Myers said he has not seen any drivers making wrong turns since the barrels have been in place. 

“The problem is, the barrels are going to be gone, and people are going to take a left turn again,” Myers said. “It needs to have a ‘one-way’ sign.” 

That concern has been shared with the Georgia Department of Transportation, Croasmun said, because Highway 144 is a state road. The state’s response was, “We’ll monitor it” once the work has been completed, he said. 

Croasmun also pointed out that the barrels will be replaced by traffic bollards. The short posts will delineate the lanes of the roundabout and direct its traffic flow. 

“We’re not totally done yet,” Croasmun said. 

County leaders maintained from the project’s inception that their main concern was having it completed before the start of school on Aug. 3. Richmond Hill Middle School and the new McAllister Elementary are near the roundabout. 

Drivers have more than two weeks to acclimate themselves to the roundabout before school starts. Burnsed stressed that the speed limit on Highway 144 drops from 55 mph to 45 and then to 35 approaching the traffic circle. 

“I did take a carload of teenagers to go around the roundabout and show them how to do it,” Infinger said. “They had never done one.”
More changes will be made to the roundabout in the future. A widening of Highway 144 from Timber Trail to Port Royal Road is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016. 

“When 144 is widened, the roundabout is going to be redone permanently at that point,” Croasmun said. “Remember, this is temporary. We wanted to get this in to make sure we had traffic control for the school.”

I predict there will be more than one accident before people finally figure this out.


  1. Something meat to be so simple can end up being a matter of confusion as your article says. We had Roundabouts up north, and I liked them a lot. Haven't see any in our area in Southern CA.

  2. I suppose it easy for us to negotiate roundabouts having lived with roundabout all of our life - however, there is a roundabout in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire that fools many people - it is one large roundabout with six satellite roundabouts surrounding it - confusion often reigns.

  3. I find this so interesting because I have never driven in any country where you drive on the right of the road and I am sure that if I did I would be totally confused at a roundabout and go the wrong way round it! Like every other road innovation (indicators for direction, seat belts to name but two) people said they would never get used to them but in time came to realise how good they were. Hope this applies to your little town and roundabouts!

  4. Roundabouts are brilliant, people much less so. Drivers old and young seems oblivious to things such as a driver backing out has the right of way, how to proceed at a four way stop, worse yet, how to proceed like a four way stop if the traffic lights are not working.
    The last county engineer installed a wonderful roundabout near us; the first in the county. It is large enough to be easily navigated, well marked, etc. The new county engineer picked up with installing roundabouts left on the drawing board when the old engineer was not returned to office. His are far too small. The curbs are scraped to the ground by semi trailers trying to drive a far too small circle. I wonder how the engineer used the left over money from the allocation for construction.

  5. There are lots of roundabouts here in Ireland, some have satellite roundabouts on there approach and a few others have traffic lights on them too. There is one in Cork city that is known as the Magic Roundabout it is four lanes deep with several traffic lights on the roundabout and at peak times it is a nightmare to negotiate, especially if you are on the inner ring and have change to the outer ring to leave.

  6. There are lots of roundabouts here in Ireland, some have satellite roundabouts on there approach and a few others have traffic lights on them too. There is one in Cork city that is known as the Magic Roundabout it is four lanes deep with several traffic lights on the roundabout and at peak times it is a nightmare to negotiate, especially if you are on the inner ring and have change to the outer ring to leave.

  7. If there is more than one it can be confusing. there used to be a vogue here for mini roundabouts in clusters. Help!!! I was grateful of one the other day when I couldn't figure out which road led where, the signs were so bad. I just drove round and round till I worked it out!

  8. I know that when I lived in the US a lot of people thought that roundabouts would be very difficult and would not want to use them, I was of course used to them and find them easy. Also, I found that Americans thought that a 4way stop was easier, and it is easy if you can turn right on red, but as we cannot turn on red here, we find that roundabouts are the easier way to go. I remember being told that in Iraq you have to give way to cars joining the roundabout, not the other way around, that sounds very tricky to me! I hope that your new roundabout works out! xx

  9. Many people confuse other and older styles of circular intersections with modern roundabouts. East coast rotaries, large multi-lane traffic circles (Arc D’Triomphe, Dupont Circle), and small neighborhood traffic circles are not modern roundabouts. If you want to see the difference between a traffic circle, a rotary (UK roundabout) and a modern roundabout (UK continental roundabout), go to to see pictures. And here’s another site that shows the difference between an older rotary and a modern roundabout:
    Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world (much more so than comparable signals). Visit for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA,
    The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts on Youtube, or check out the IIHS video (iihs dot org).

  10. Hope everyone manages to figure it out soon. Roundabouts definitely work when you know what you're doing, but even when you're used to them they can sometimes be confusing, especially deciding which lane to get in when there are more than the standard four exits!

    And there's the Magic Roundabout in Swindon, Wiltshire which has five mini roundabouts arranged around a sixth central one! I have driven 'round' it, but luckily I was merely going straight on, so not too bad to negotiate. Double mini-roundabouts are fairly common over here in the UK.

  11. This has got everyone talking, Janet!
    I agree, the best things about a roundabout is, once on them, if you miss your exit, you can go round again.
    I think I would like to park near this new roundabout of yours and just watch the show :-)

  12. Justine, we've done the magic Roundabout in Swindon, more than once!!!

  13. Justine, we've done the magic Roundabout in Swindon, more than once!!!

  14. Are roundabouts so rare in America? I didn't realise. Have you seen National Lampoons European Vacation where they're going round and round the roundabout because they can't get off it, passing Parliament each time they go round, so funny.

  15. They are rather rare here, though you see them from time to time, but generally not in the backwoods of Georgia. We got caught in one in Lyon, France and like to have never gotten out of it

  16. Oh how I can relate! I am in Winston-Salem, NC and these have been sprouting like weeds on our roads over the last few years. We think our city officials must have gone to a conference and attended a session on roundabouts and fell in love. I go through 2 of them in LOW traffic areas on my short commute to and from work. It is interesting to watch people approach for the first time and not know what to do.


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