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What Are the Causes of Roundabout Car Accidents?
Cochran, Kroll and Associates Cochran, Kroll and Associates
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Detroit, MI
Thursday, August 10, 2023


Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Roundabouts are a popular alternative to traditional intersections due to their potential to reduce traffic flow and vehicle speeds. Roundabout car accidents can occur for several reasons, including driver errors or misunderstandings about navigating these traffic features correctly. This misjudgment can lead to crashes with other vehicles and fixed objects like curbs, medians, and center islands within roundabouts.

Identifying what causes a roundabout car accident can help you understand the risks involved so that you can protect yourself and others on the road. If you sustained injuries in a roundabout accident, a car accident attorney can provide legal guidance.

Why Cities Use Roundabouts vs. Traditional Intersections

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), intersections are prone to accidents due to navigating multiple lanes with vehicles turning left or right. These locations account for over 50% of fatal and injury crashes.

Intersections controlled by stop signs and traffic signals are vulnerable to specific collisions such as right-angle, left-turn, and head-on accidents.

Michigan has roundabouts to minimize the number of dangerous accidents occurring at intersections. A roundabout with a yield sign allows vehicles to enter the intersection when there is enough space in the traffic flow. Fewer vehicles stop completely, reducing wait times and decreasing vehicle speeds.

Many studies have found that roundabouts prevent accidents and minimize injuries. The Federal Highway Administration reports that the roundabouts have resulted in a decrease of over 90% in fatalities, 76% in injuries, and 35% in total crashes.

Causes of Roundabout Accidents

Despite their popularity, roundabouts are not immune to accidents. Installing single-lane roundabouts resulted in a 7% increase in crashes. Roundabouts with two lanes are more complex than those with one lane, creating challenges for drivers who are unfamiliar with them.

Drivers can cause a roundabout car accident when they perform the following unsafe behaviors:

1. Failure to Yield

When drivers approach a roundabout, they must reduce their speed and yield the right of way to traffic in the roundabout. Michigan law requires drivers to obey the yield signs posted at roundabout entrances and look at the traffic flow before entering. A driver who fails to yield the right of way without looking can cause an accident.

2. Incorrect Lane Usage

Michigan requires drivers to stay within one lane while navigating roundabouts. They can change lanes when they can do so safely. Changing lanes improperly during a roundabout increases the risk of an accident.

3. Excessive Speeding

A driver must drive at a reasonable and appropriate speed so they can stop safely. They have to consider various factors when determining their vehicles’ speed, including traffic, road conditions, and the width of the roundabout. Excessive speed can prevent drivers from slowing down and yielding promptly to other vehicles within a roundabout.

4. Improper Stopping

A roundabout is designed to keep traffic moving continuously. Stopping in the circle is dangerous unless necessary to avoid a collision. In Michigan, a driver can stop their vehicle if they can ensure they can safely stop and signal. Coming to a sudden stop within a roundabout can lead to rear-end collisions.

5. Insufficient Signage

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends that roundabouts have yield, one-way, and keep-right signs. However, the lack of clear-use signs and pavement markings in multi-lane roundabouts can confuse drivers needing to determine which lane to use when making left or right turns.

Insufficient signage at roundabouts contributes to driver confusion, sudden lane changes, and failure to yield, increasing the likelihood of accidents. A study revealed that over 40% of drivers are unsure of the appropriate speed, lane selection, and proper interaction with trucks in roundabouts when there are no signs.

6. Inadequate Visibility

Lighting is necessary at specific areas within the roundabout, such as entry and exit points. Ground-level lighting should be on the roundabout’s central island to improve the drivers’ visibility and notice fixed objects like concrete barriers.

Insufficient lighting in a roundabout can contribute to traffic accidents as drivers may fail to anticipate and appropriately respond to the actions of other drivers. Due to reduced visibility, drivers may not notice pedestrians, other vehicles, or obstacles resulting in potential collisions.

7. Uneven or Damaged Road Surfaces

Detailed grading at roundabouts prevents the formation of flat areas and ensures efficient drainage. If a government agency improperly maintains a roundabout’s drainage and grading, flat areas can develop, causing water to accumulate. This standing water can create hazardous conditions, causing vehicles to lose traction and increasing the risk of skidding or hydroplaning.

Roundabout Car Accident Attorney

8. Driver Negligence

Michigan drivers are responsible for following all traffic laws at roundabouts. Drivers who fail to obey traffic rules while maneuvering in a roundabout may be considered negligent.

An act of negligence in a roundabout crash can include one of the following:

  • Drowsy driving: Fatigued drivers lack alertness and have impaired reaction times. They are less likely to pay attention to the road and get into collisions.
  • Distracted driving: Drivers distracted by their cell phones and engaging in other distracting activities don’t focus on the traffic flow in a roundabout.
  • Driving under the influence: Driving in a roundabout while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair judgment, coordination, and overall driving skills.
  • Tailgating: Following other vehicles too closely leaves little room for response in case of sudden stops or changes in traffic flow. If a driver is tailgating another vehicle in a roundabout and their actions lead to a collision, they could be considered responsible for the accident.

To establish another driver’s negligence in a roundabout accident, you need a lawyer to help you prove that the driver breached their duty of care and that breach directly caused your injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you establish the other driver’s negligence and pursue compensation for your injuries.

Why You Need a Car Accident Attorney After a Roundabout Crash

Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. attorneys can handle all aspects of your roundabout accident claim. We will thoroughly investigate your case, including examining evidence such as vehicle damage photos, police reports, and medical records. We will pursue maximum compensation for your injuries by negotiating with your car insurance company.

If your roundabout accident resulted from poor road design, we can explore holding the responsible government agency accountable under Michigan’s Governmental Tort Liability Act.

We can determine whether you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering if you have suffered severe injuries. You must have experienced a serious or permanent impairment of a critical body function to file a third-party claim against the other driver.

Under Michigan’s modified comparative negligence law, you can claim non-economic damages if you are less than 51% of the fault for the collision. To establish liability for non-economic damages, we work with accident reconstructionists to evaluate the accident and determine the other driver’s negligence, holding them responsible for your injuries.

Talk to a Roundabout Car Accident Attorney

A severe roundabout accident can result in injuries and uncertainty for drivers. If you were involved in a roundabout collision, you might face challenges in identifying who should be held responsible and pursuing compensation.

Whether your accident was caused by a negligent driver or an inadequate road design, Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. is ready to help you. We can investigate all evidence to determine liability and pursue the compensation you deserve for your roundabout car accident.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Jasmine Holt is a freelance writer specializing in legal content marketing for attorneys and law firms. She hopes to provide better legal advice to the general public using her previous experience working with a franchise company and a law firm. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

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Dateline: Plymouth, MI United States
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