Oh,my goodness! Roundabouts are showing up all around Genesee County! And whether you love them or hate them, traffic circles are here to stay and more of them are coming. One was recently constructed at Linden and Grand Blanc Roads and another is currently being created at Embury and Grand Blanc Roads in Grand Blanc Township.
My first experience with a roundabout was not a good one. A few years ago, my daughter and I drove to the Upper Peninsula for my son’s graduation from Michigan Technological University. We were meeting him at a restaurant in Downtown Houghton and had to drive through a roundabout to get there. I had never driven through one and had no idea what I was doing or where to get off, so I just kept driving around and around the circle! My son and his girlfriend were frantically gesturing to us from the other side trying to show us where to go. I, of course, didn’t understand what he was trying to say, so I just chose one way – of course, it was a one-way street … in the other direction. I was so stressed! Since then, I have avoided traffic circles whenever possible. (We won’t even discuss the US 23 and Lee Road triple roundabout. I’m still traumatized by that experience. To this day, it is on my AVOID AT ALL COST list).
I’ve since become (somewhat) an expert at traffic circles, because they are practically everywhere and have become difficult to avoid. And, according to statistics, they are safer and reported to reduce injury crashes by 75 percent.
So, how do you drive in a traffic circle? Here are a few simple rules. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, roundabouts are easy to navigate and safer than traditional intersections. Traffic in a roundabout always moves counterclockwise. Choose your lane before entering. Yield to all vehicles already driving in the roundabout. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Indicate your exit with your turn signal. Use signs and pavement markings to help guide you. Sounds simple, right? It is … if EVERYONE follows the rules! But, of course, some drivers don’t.
The purpose of a roundabout is to keep traffic moving and I really became a fan in 2019 when one was created at North and Torrey Roads in Fenton. Rush-hour traffic there was always clogged. It is a very busy intersection with a gas station, party store and two restaurants (Beale Street BBQ and The Barn) located on the corners. Since the roundabout opened, traffic flow has greatly improved and there are no annoying backups.
As for the triple roundabout at US 23 and Lee Road, I just read something interesting: it has been listed as one of the most dangerous intersections for crashes in Michigan. For now, I believe it will remain on my AVOID AT ALL COST list!