The Truth About Iowa Roundabouts

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, roundabouts are supposed to “…reduce crashes, traffic delays, fuel consumption, air pollution, and construction and maintenance costs.”

Modern roundabouts are circular intersections without traffic signals. They differ from older traffic circles or rotaries in three important ways. Modern roundabouts, such as the ones that have been built in Iowa since 2000:

  • Are smaller and require lower traveling speeds than older traffic circles.
  • Require the entering traffic to yield the right of way to the traffic already in the roundabout. This keeps traffic moving.
  • Have splitters and center islands to reinforce the yielding process.

Roundabouts are considered one of the safest types of intersection design. However, accidents still happen.

Where Are Iowa’s Roundabouts?

Since 2000, approximately 61 roundabouts have opened in Iowa, including:

  • 16 roundabouts in Polk County
  • 10 roundabouts in Linn County
  • 10 roundabouts in Dallas County
  • 9 roundabouts in Johnson County
  • 4 roundabouts in Black Hawk County
  • 3 roundabouts in Bremer County
  • 1 roundabout in Wapello County
  • 1 roundabout in Dubuque County
  • 1 roundabout in Fayette County
  • 1 roundabout in Buchanan County
  • 1 roundabout in Webster County
  • 1 roundabout in Cerro Gordo County
  • 1 roundabout in Mahaska County
  • 1 roundabout in Scott County
  • 1 roundabout in Story County

Additionally, other circular intersections such as circular islands, traffic calming circles, and rotaries exist in various Iowa counties.

Roundabout Safety

The Iowa Department of Transportation reports a:

The reduction in accidents and the types of accidents that occur have to do with the roundabout designs. While a typical four-way intersection has 32 possible vehicle-to-vehicle collision points and 24 possible vehicle-to-pedestrian collision points, a four-entry roundabout has only about eight possible vehicle-to-vehicle collision points and eight possible vehicle-to-pedestrian collision points.

Furthermore, since all roundabout traffic moves in the same direction, left-turn crashes, T-bone accidents, and head-on collisions are significantly reduced. The crashes that do occur tend to be sideswipe crashes or rear-end wrecks.

While fewer people may be seriously hurt or killed in roundabout accidents, serious crashes still occur. Iowa drivers may be unsure what to do when they come to a roundabout. This uncertainty can cause a driver to make a mistake and rear-end or sideswipe another car. Additionally, roundabouts do not significantly decrease the risk for bicyclists and still leave pedestrians vulnerable.

What to Do After a Roundabout Accident Injury

If another driver’s negligence hurt you in an Iowa roundabout crash, then you have the right to make a fair financial recovery. Whether you have been hurt in a sideswipe crash, rear-end accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian crash, you should take the following actions at the scene of the crash if you are physically able to do so:

  • First, call the police to the scene of the crash. The police will investigate the crash, direct traffic to avoid a second crash, and make sure everyone who needs it gets medical attention.
  • Second, accept medical help. Even if you don’t feel injured, you may have been hurt.
  • Third, gather as much information as you can at the accident scene. This includes, but isn’t limited to, taking pictures of the accident scene and getting the names and contact information for all other drivers, passengers, and witnesses.

After the accident, you can continue protecting your rights by:

  • Following your doctor’s orders
  • Watching what you say to insurance adjusters
  • Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible

Our experienced Iowa car accident lawyers are here to help you no matter where your crash occurred. If you’ve been hurt in a roundabout wreck, then we will thoroughly investigate what happened, negotiate with the right insurers, and take your case to court, if necessary, to protect your rights. Call us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and to learn about our Win, or It’s Free Guarantee.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham