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Roundabouts: A Solution For Nevada Roads

Roundabouts are becoming more and more common on US roads, with Nevada roads being no different. When the Nevada Regional Transportation Commission introduced roundabouts years ago, there was a lot of confusion from local motorists. As time has passed, they have become an important way to calm and slow traffic without delays or long pauses required by traffic lights. More importantly they have shown that they improve traffic safety, reduce accidents by about thirty percent, and crashes that do occur are less severe. The Nevada Regional Transport Commission cites the reduction of head on crashes, common at regular intersections, versus side-swipe accidents which typically occur on roundabouts.

Benefits of Roundabouts

Roundabouts have several positive aspects; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that roundabout led to the following improvements:

  • 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes
  • 76 percent reduction in injury crashes
  • 30 to 40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes
  • 10 percent reduction in bicycle reduction

As mentioned above, this reduction is largely due to fact that cars must reduce their speed when entering a roundabout, requiring cars to yield to enter the roundabout. In addition to the safety impacts, roundabouts also have positive impacts on the environment and city. Roundabouts eliminate the stop-and-go traffic that are required at traffic signal or stop sign-controlled intersections. This reduces the idle time for a vehicle and thus decreases the vehicle’s pollution. In addition, it decreases costs for city maintenance: traffic signals require 24-hour electricity, maintenance from field personnel, replacements for burned out lights, loop detectors, etc. On the other hand, roundabouts only require electric streetlights and landscaping. The increased opportunity for landscaping is also an opportunity for the city to add green space or beautify to areas, which has an overall positive impact on the community.

Finally, roundabouts not only make roads safer for cars, but also positively impact pedestrian safety. With roundabouts, pedestrians only cross one direction of traffic at a time, instead of two-way uncontrolled intersections. Additionally, the reduced speed of a driver in a roundabout gives them more time to react to a pedestrian and decreases the likelihood of a crash. [2]

History of Roundabout in Nevada

Nevada has been a leader in the construction of roundabouts, and the first modern US traffic roundabout was constructed in Las Vegas in 1990. With the construction of this roundabout, the US joined countries like France and the United Kingdom where roundabout were commonplace with more than 30,000 at the time. [3] For the trivia minded, the first two roundabouts were built in Summerlin at Hualapai and Town Center and Town Center and Banburry Cross Drive.  Although Nevada was the first, the State has less roundabouts per capita than most states, however this is beginning to change.

New Roundabout to Be Built in Reno

Roundabouts seem to be a good solution for Nevada roads which have been seeing an increase in high-speed fatal accidents through 2022. In Reno, city officials have struggled with accidents on a certain stretch of West Fourth Street and the intersection of Woodland Avenue. These areas see steady traffic from one side, and residential traffic on the other side. In addition, there is a railroad crossing nearby, as well as only one stop sign regulating traffic. Due to the accidents, the city has started constructing a roundabout, hoping it will lead to the slowing of traffic and improvements in the intersection. In addition to improving traffic safety with the roundabout, the city is hoping to add wider bike lanes and bike railing to make the area more bike friendly. [1]

Safety Reminders When Entering a Roundabout

As wonderful as roundabouts are, they are still quite scarce and can be confusing to drivers. The lack of stop signs commonplace to American roads can throw off some drivers. Remember that yield signs are used to notify drivers to first yield to the vehicles in the roundabout. The following are some reminders regarding roundabout traffic safety:

  • Approaching a Roundabout: Signs will be posted prior to approaching a roundabout. In Nevada it can be a yellow diamond with a circular symbol inside. Sometimes it can be on a green rectangular sign with the depiction of the roundabout inside. If you see this sign, slow down and be prepared to yield.
  • Entering the Roundabout: Yield to pedestrians/bikes. If you are in multi-lane roundabout, choose the appropriate lane.
  • Driving in the Roundabout: Yield to the driver’s left. Remember that those already in the roundabout have the right of way. Also, be sure to use your turn signal to indicate when you are exiting the roundabout.

As with anytime you are on the road, follow the posted speed limit. When you are in the roundabout, do not stop for those waiting to enter the roundabout, as you have the right of way . If you are in a multilane roundabout, do not exit it from the left lane and avoid traveling on the side of commercial trucks or larger vehicles who may need extra space to maneuver in the roundabout. [4]





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