WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — As the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) continues to work on infrastructure across the state, on Monday, June 13, 2022, DOTD opened a new roundabout in Monroe, La.

The roundabout is located at LA Highway 594 at Rowland Road.

According to DOTD, the single-lane roundabout is aimed at improving safety at the intersection, which was previously stop-controlled, by reducing the potential for right-angle crashes. These types of crashes can be severe.

Your Weather Station wanted to provide information about how to drive, bicycle or walk through a roundabout and its purpose to help encourage traffic safety.

What is a roundabout?

  • According to DOTD’s website, roundabouts are one-way, circular intersections designed to improve safety and efficiency for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • In a roundabout, traffic flows through a center island counterclockwise.
  • A roundabout redirects some of the conflicting traffic, such as left turns, which cause crashes at traditional intersections. This is because drivers enter and exit the roundabout through a series of right-hand turns.
This DOTD graphic provides step-by-step instructions for pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles to use a roundabout. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development)

The graphic states that pedestrians should follow four simple tips to walk safely through a roundabout. First, pedestrians should use the designated crosswalk. Never walk in the roundabout or the central island. Second, cross one lane at a time to the splitter island. It provides refuge between lanes. Third, when crossing an entry lane, watch for oncoming traffic. Even if you have the right-of-way when you are in the crosswalk, make sure that drivers see you and stop for you. Fourth, when crossing an exit lane, watch for cars leaving the roundabout. You have the right-of-way but proceed carefully. For vehicles, look for the sign indicating a roundabout, it is your first cue you are approaching a roundabout. Start to slow down, when approaching the roundabout, slow down to 10 to 15 miles per hour. Share the road, always look for bicycles merging into the travel lane and/or pedestrians crossing. Let bicycles merge. If a person is at the crosswalk, let them cross. It is the law. Yield to traffic, you may have to stop to yield to cars on your left. If the road is clear, simply enter the roundabout, turning right. You do not have to stop, just enter. Proceed slowly, do not pass bicyclists ahead of you within the roundabout. Continue until you get to your exit. Do not stop in the roundabout. Follow directional signs, they will tell you where to exit. Exit carefully, using your right-turn signal, exit the roundabout. Remember to watch for pedestrians. For bicyclists, ride a bicycle as if you were driving a car. Be assertive, so cars see you and respect your right to be on the road. Refer to the same steps on the left column with the addition of these tips. If riding on the shoulder or bike lane: merge into the travel lane before the shoulder ends and move slowly and signal. If you don’t want to ride your bicycle in the roundabout, use the sidewalks and proceed as a pedestrian. (Refer to the step-by-step instructions for pedestrians) Once in the roundabout: don’t hug the curb, ride close to the middle of the lane to prevent cars from passing you and watch for cars waiting to enter the roundabout.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development DOTD

What are the advantages of roundabouts?

  • A well-designed roundabout can improve safety, operations and aesthetics of an intersection.
  • Greater safety is achieved primarily by slower speeds and the elimination of more severe crashes and operation is improved by smooth-flowing traffic with less stop-and-go than a signalized intersection. Aesthetics are enhanced by the opportunity for more landscaping and less pavement.
This DOTD graphic explains roundabout benefits. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development)

What do statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) say about roundabouts?

  • Roundabouts save lives by Reducing fatalities by up to 90 percent.
  • Reducing injury crashes up to 76 percent.
  • Reducing pedestrian crashes up to 30 percent to 40 percent.
  • Creating up to 75 percent fewer conflict points than a four-way intersection. Conflict points are any point where the paths of two through or turning vehicles diverge, merge or cross.

Roundabouts save money by:

  • Reducing road electricity and maintenance costs by an average of $5,000 per year.
  • Eliminating the costs to install and repair signal equipment.
  • Providing a 25-year service life when compared to the 10-year service life of signal equipment.

Roundabouts provide environmental benefits by:

  • Reducing vehicle delay and the number and duration of stops compared with signalized intersections thus decreasing fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Fewer stops and hard accelerations mean less time idling.

How are modern roundabouts different than traffic circles and rotaries?

Modern roundabouts are significantly different than older style traffic circles and rotaries in how they operate and are designed:

  • Rotaries and traffic circles may have two-directional flow and are typically much larger than the modern roundabout.
  • The compactness of a modern roundabout helps keep speeds low and makes it easier for drivers to stay oriented and judge the speed of the vehicles before entering the roundabout.
  • Modern roundabouts require entering traffic to yield not merge at all entries. Whereas traffic circles and rotaries may require circulating traffic to yield to entering traffic.

What are the general principles of using a roundabout?

  • Think of roundabouts as a series of “T” intersections, where entering vehicles yield to one-way traffic coming from the left. A driver approaching a roundabout must slow down, stop or yield to traffic already in the roundabout and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
  • Then, it is a simple matter of making a right-hand turn onto a one-way street.
  • Once in the roundabout, the driver proceeds around the central island, then takes the necessary right-hand turn to exit.

In DOTD’s video Traveling Through a Roundabout (Single Lane Roundabout Through Movement) the narrator described that a through movement at a roundabout is similar to a through movement at a stop controlled or signalized intersection, except the center island provides curvature in the roadway requiring a reduction in speed. This element of design is highly beneficial because slower speeds may reduce the severity of crashes. A through movement at a roundabout follows the same procedure as the other movement, on a typical four-legged roundabout this would be the second exit. (Video courtesy of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development)

Can roundabouts accommodate larger vehicles?

  • Yes. Roundabouts are designed to accommodate vehicles with a large turning radius such as buses, fire trucks and eighteen wheelers. Roundabouts provide an area between the circulatory roadway and the central island, know as truck apron, over which the rear wheels of these vehicles can safely track.

In DOTD’s video Making a Right Turn in a Roundabout (Single Lane Roundabout Right Turn Movement) the narrator described that a right turn is the simplest movement in a roundabout. As you approach the roundabout slow down and watch for pedestrians. Then continue toward the roundabout and look to your left as you near the yield sign at the entrance of the roundabout. Remember to always yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the roundabout and proceed to your exit. On a typical four-legged roundabout, this would be the first exit. If you missed your turn simply continue in the roundabout until you reach your exit again. Look for pedestrians and use your turn signal before you exit. (Video courtesy of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development)

In DOTD’s video Making a Left Turn in a Roundabout (Single Lane Roundabout Left Turn Movement) the narrator describedthat a left turn is often the most confusing movement in a roundabout, however every movement follows the same procedure. As you approach the roundabout, slow down and watch for pedestrians. Then continue toward the roundabout and look to your left as you near the yield sign at the entrance of the roundabout. Remember to always yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the roundabout and proceed to your exit. On a typical four-legged roundabout this will be the third exit. If you miss your turn simply continue in the roundabout until you reach your exit again. Again, look for pedestrians and use your turn signal before you exit. (Video courtesy of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development)