December 5, 2013
“No left turn” and “Yield” are pretty straightforward traffic signs that every Ohioan is expected to understand thoroughly before being issued a driver’s license.
They also are the traffic signs that appear at a roundabout. And while some motorists complain that roundabouts “confuse” them, those two very simple traffic signs (along with speed limit signs) are all one needs to understand to navigate a roundabout.
Ohio 315 has reopened at Powell Road, and motorists on that very heavily traveled route are using the new roundabout at Orange Road. More roundabouts are coming. One is likely to be installed at Home Road, also on Ohio 315, and another is planned in Genoa Township.
Unlike new-fangled contraptions such as cell phones and the Internet which can irritate crotchety traditionalists stuck in their ways, the roundabout predates the airplane and electric light.
One sits in the middle of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and it’s been there since the Civil War, if not sooner. The locals don’t call it a roundabout (its official name is “Public Square”) but a roundabout is what it is. A motorist can enter only by turning right, and yielding to any oncoming traffic in the circle.
Roundabouts also have existed for decades in Europe, where motorists have no problem with them.
It might seem that government officials are determined to install roundabouts no matter what anybody thinks and no matter who objects.
No wonder if they do, because a roundabout is safer than a regular intersection. At a roundabout, it is essentially impossible to slam a car into the side of another car at a 90-degree angle at 50 miles an hour. That kind of accident can, and does, take place at traditional crossroads intersections.
Once upon a time, Americans grumbled at the suggestion they should wear seat belts in a car. Now they understand seat belts make driving safer.
So do roundabouts.