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Why roundabouts?

Roundabouts are safer than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections. Roundabouts reduce injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were used. This is according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). There are several reasons why roundabouts help reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes:

Low travel speeds – Drivers must slow down and yield to traffic before entering a roundabout. Speeds in the roundabout are typically between 15 and 20 miles per hour. The few crashes that occur in roundabouts are typically minor and cause few injuries since they occur at such low speeds.

No light to beat – Roundabouts are designed to promote a continuous, circular flow of traffic. Drivers yield to traffic before entering a roundabout. If there is no traffic in the roundabout, drivers are not required to stop. Drivers don’t have the incentive to speed up to try and “beat the light,” like they might at a traditional intersection. This is also beneficial when the power goes out. There is no confusion over an all-way stop.

One-way travel – Roads are gently curved to direct drivers into the intersection. The roadway directs them to travel counterclockwise around the roundabout. Both eliminate the possibility for T-bone and head-on crashes.

Reduce Delay and improve traffic flow – Roundabouts move more traffic through an intersection that traffic signals. Roundabouts promote a continuous flow of traffic. Drivers don’t have to wait for a green light at a roundabout to get through the intersection.

Less expensive to maintain – Traffic signals are high maintenance. They need electricity, software, and electrical components to operate. Roundabouts are more affordable to maintain.

How do I drive a roundabout?

Check out this video created by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The VDOT roundabout is comparable to WSDOT’s roundabout proposed for the Wolves Road intersection.

Check out our downloadable materials on our “Rules of the Roundabout” brochure (PDF 1.7MB).

Want to experience driving or walking a similar roundabout?

Visit and drive or walk a similar roundabout located in downtown Shelton, Washington at the intersection of North 1st Street and West Alder Street. View the roundabout in the photo below, or see it on Google Maps.

Street view photo example of a similar single-lane roundabout located in downtown Shelton at the intersection of North 1st Street and West Alder Street.
Example of a similar single-lane roundabout located in downtown Shelton at the
intersection of North 1st Street and West Alder Street.

If I ride a bike, what are my options at a roundabout?

Bicyclists can choose, depending upon their comfort level, whether to:

For more information about roundabouts, visit WSDOT’s roundabout webpage.