Wrongabout

Even with roundabouts being introduced to Johnston three years ago, it seems some students and adult drivers alike are not knowledgeable enough to safely and efficiently drive in them. Drivers are unaware of how to properly signal when leaving the roundabout, how to be courteous to other drivers (not only an issue in the roundabouts) and what speeds are appropriate in the roundabouts. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that roundabouts create a 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes, a 76 percent reduction in injury crashes as well as a ten percent reduction in bicycle crashes. They have actually lowered the number of traffic accidents on the roads they were installed on in Johnston by 50 percent in the first year.

The biggest issue I have with driving in the roundabouts is when people don’t use their turn signals. When going left in a roundabout, you are supposed to use your turn signal to indicate to other drivers that you are going to be crossing their path. If you fail to do so, the only indicator of you crossing through their lane is the slim chance that they see you and slow down (which even some people fail to do). One too many times, I’ve had to play the guessing game if someone is going to come my direction and it’s undesirable to have to drive like that.

One of the most aggravating things someone can do while driving in the roundabouts is unnecessarily stopping at the yield signs, even when there is no car coming. Roundabouts are designed to be fluid and to create fewer stops as well as lower the chances of an accident taking place, but if I’m looking to my left to see if there is a car coming I’m not going to immediately see you braking.

Driving in a roundabout requires driving ability, patience and a sense of order. These are a few things high schoolers generally tend to lack, which begs the question why are we putting roundabouts in front of a high school?

“We talked to the school and drivers today in the drivers education programs were taught about roundabouts,” Public Works Director Dave Cubit said. “They were actually being taken to different locations in Ankeny and Urbandale to drive in them.”

By the end of this construction year, five more roundabouts will be added to intersections in Johnston as well as the entrances to the new high school. “We don’t just build roundabouts because they’re cool and neat, we do an evaluation of the intersection and we model traffic,” Cubit said. ”We actually build a simulated model with the actual traffic numbers and we run those models to determine whether a traditional intersection with signals or a roundabout would better serve the purpose.”

The idea of roundabouts may be lousy but they have a definitive purpose.