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Public Opinion of Roundabouts

Do you feel anxious at the thought of driving a roundabout? If so, you’re not alone. While most drivers get that ‘deer in the headlights’ look initially, studies show after drivers use roundabouts, they like them.

After driving roundabouts, the number of people who favor them more than doubles.  A survey (pdf 226 kb) on drivers’ views of roundabouts before and after construction conducted by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety illustrates public opinion. Before construction, the number of drivers who were in favor of roundabouts was only 31 percent, and those strongly opposed was 41 percent.

Public opinion raises to 63 percent after driving roundabouts.
Public opinion after driving roundabouts: most favor them and only
15% are strongly opposed.

The reasons most cited for concern were fear of the unknown:  People initially prefer traffic signals and stop signs until they realize roundabouts allow them through the intersection safely without having to stop.  Other concerns about safety and possibly being confused about where to go also dissipate with use. 

In follow-up surveys, done after the roundabout was installed and drivers had a chance to use them, those who favored roundabouts increased to 63 percent and those strongly opposed dropped to 15 percent.


Roundabouts in the news

Government Technology, Nov. 30, 2012 - "Eco-friendly lighting may improve traffic circle safety"
The Wenatchee World, Oct. 15, 2012 - "Stemilt roundabout almost finished"
The Everett Herald, Oct. 8, 2012 - "It's best to signal while exiting roundabout"
The Everett Herald, May 7, 2012 - "Arlington roundabout work to start this week."
The Columbian, April 21, 2012 - "Roundabouts: Into the local roads they go ...when will it stop? Nobody knows"
Wenatchee World, Feb. 28, 2012 - "New roundabout coming to US 97A and Ohme Garden Road"
Tri-City Herald, Jan. 15, 2012 - "State keeps pushing plans for Benton City roundabout"
Everett Herald, Nov. 25, 2011 - "Work to start on roundabout at Arlington intersection"
Bellingham Herald, Oct. 14, 2011 - "WSDOT to open Mount Baker Highway-Smith Road roundabout"
Tri-City Herald letter, April 3, 2011 - "Do you prefer roundabouts? Remember how it used to be"
Yakima Herald-Republic, March 30, 2011 - "Keep going with the flow of traffic roundabouts" 
The Olympian, March 11, 2011 - "Like it or not, around the roundabouts we go in South Sound"
The Daily News (Longview), Feb. 22, 2011 - "Opposition to roundabouts will subside over time"
Yakima Herald-Republic, Dec. 18, 2010 - "New roundabouts: So far, so good"
Wall Street Journal, Nov. 4, 2010 - "Roundabouts: Coming to an intersection near you?"
Yakima Herald-Republic, Oct. 31, 2010 - "Roundabouts right on target"
Skagit Valley Argus, Oct. 28, 2010 - "The roundabout way to drive"
Wenatchee World, Oct. 20, 2010 - "Roundabouts: Safer, cheaper"
Bellingham Herald, Sept. 19, 2010 - "Data: No spike in crashes - and no injuries - with Guide Meridian roundabouts"