Riverside Drive Atlanta, GA Roundabouts: Pros & Cons

roundabouts in Atlanta cause car accidents

Pros and Cons of Sandy Springs’ Riverside Drive Roundabouts

If you want to go north or south off Interstate 285 in Sandy Springs on Riverside Drive, you have to take a roundabout or two. The teardrop-shaped roundabouts are new, the product of a $5.6 million Georgia Department of Transportation project that was expected to see the last of the traffic cones by late November.

The traffic management systems are handling all vehicles entering and leaving I-285 and those crossing it on the Riverside Drive bridge. Motorists on Riverside get a double whammy, hitting one roundabout on the north side of the bridge and another on the south side.

There is striping to be done, among other finishing touches, but the roundabouts are in use, and people seem to love them – or hate them. The jury isn’t in yet, but the judge (GDOT) has ruled. In fact, GDOT seems to be a big fan of roundabouts. A GDOT website shows Georgia has 309 roundabouts, with 197 of those in the Atlanta metro area.

Double Roundabouts at Riverside Drive Atlanta – All About Safety

A Georgia Department of Transportation report posted online has this headline: Modern Roundabouts in Georgia: A Safer Intersection Choice.

On the city of Sandy Springs, GDOT district engineer Kathy Zahul cites a study showing there were 73 crashes at the Interstate 285-Riverside Drive interchange from 2008 through 2012. There were injuries in 16 of them.

“Roundabouts improve safety more than other types of intersections because speeds within the intersection are slower, giving drivers more time to react,” Zahul says. “There are also fewer conflict points, particularly for pedestrians.”

The Modern Roundabouts in Georgia report includes an illustration that explains conflict points. There are 32 conflict points at the intersection of two two-lane roads, points where two vehicles can cross, merge, or diverge with another vehicle. The number rises to 48 if you toss in pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Make that same intersection a roundabout and, without doing the math for foot traffic, you reduce the conflict points to eight.

The numbers are on GDOT’s side. A National Cooperative Highway Research Program safety study of 55 U.S. intersections before and after roundabouts found a:

  • 35 percent overall decrease in crashes
  • 76 percent decrease in injury crashes
  • 81 percent decrease in fatal/incapacitating crashes for single-lane urban roundabouts
  • 71 percent decrease in fatal/incapacitating crashes for single-lane rural roundabouts

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) also has sided with roundabouts when it comes to safety. Citing AASHTO, the Federal Highway Administration says: “Most significantly, roundabouts REDUCE the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by 78-82% when compared to conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections.”

Solving Traffic Congestion Means No Left Turns: Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers

Atlanta Channel 11 TV’s Jerry “Commuter Dude” Carnes reported live from the roundabout on the south side of I-285 on Sept. 30. He said the double roundabouts had opened to mixed reviews from motorists. The complaints, he said, largely were about the failure to completely do away with congestion.

GDOT said Riverside Drive traffic flow had improved a lot but acknowledged that backups were still occurring during about two out of 24 hours. The department blamed that on motorists not being used to roundabouts and said things will get better as drivers get past the roundabout learning curve:

  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Yield to traffic when entering the teardrop-shaped roundabouts.
  • Stay right to turn.
  • Never go left.

Carnes got a Sandy Springs resident on camera who said she drives through the roundabouts several times a day. She said she isn’t seeing the backups that occurred when traffic lights handled the traffic flow. Overall, she gave them a thumbs-up for efficiency.

The TV Science of Solving Traffic Congestion: Atlanta Car Wrecks

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) agrees with the Sandy Springs resident, and it adds that roundabouts are “often safer, more efficient, less costly and more aesthetically appealing than conventional intersection designs.”

Internet searches on roundabouts find the consensus tilting heavily toward the FHA’s stance.

Television science has taken a stance, too. In 2013, Discovery Channel “MythBusters” Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman tested the efficiency of a four-way stop versus a roundabout. The finding: The roundabout was 20 percent more efficient.

A Washington State Department of Transportation study found that the costs of building a roundabout and traffic-light controlled intersection are comparable. The traffic lights, however, cost $5,000 to $10,000 a year to maintain.

The cost savings from the reduction in automobile accidents is huge. The value of the roundabouts’ significant decrease in crash fatalities and injuries is incalculable.

Creating a Safer Environment: Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers

Already abundant in Europe, the roundabout finally is catching on in the United States, and yes, the public has some learning to do about using them. The Georgia Department of Transportation knows that, too. The proof is the instructional video it posted online to teach people how to use Riverside Drive’s teardrop roundabouts.

Georgia’s roundabout count now stands at 309. (The site with the instructional video also includes a Georgia roundabouts locater map.) The rise of roundabouts in Georgia makes it clear where the Peach State stands on the intersection debate. So does this GDOT policy statement: “Roundabouts are the preferred safety and operational alternative for a wide range of intersections of public roads.”

Here’s the bottom line for all players in the transportation game: It’s all about solving traffic congestion, minimizing traffic backups, and maximizing safety.

If You’re Hurt in a Roundabout Accident, Contact Millar & Mixon

Safety measures may curb accidents, but crashes are a deadly fact of life on metropolitan Atlanta roads. Those who fall victim to a traffic accident can turn to Millar & Mixon LLC, which since 1993 has helped people throughout Georgia fight for the compensation they need to overcome injuries suffered at the hands of others, in car accidents

If you need legal help, contact Millar & Mixon today to learn how our skilled roundabout accident attorneys can help you get your life back on track.

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