Verify: Do roundabouts really fix traffic problems?

Do roundabouts really fix traffic problems?

Roundabouts seem to be popping up all over central Arkansas as a solution to alleviate traffic backups, but do they really work?

The city of Benton is booming. Their population is growing, new businesses are opening up, but the downside of that is traffic is increasingly becoming a problem for residents. Their solution to the problem is to introduce roundabouts.

We wanted to know what the city and project managers hoped to accomplish with the roundabouts and how exactly they fix traffic problems. We reached out for their comments, but didn't get a response by the story's deadline.

So, we turned our focus to Conway, the so-called "City of Roundabouts."

"Roundabouts are meant to alleviate the back up of traffic you would get at a traffic signal because you do not have to stop basically," said Officer Joseph Rowe, with the Conway Police Department's Traffic Division.

Over the past few years, Conway has built roundabouts all throughout the city. Rowe said there was a learning curve when they were first installed, but offered some tips.

"A good rule of thumb is if you're in the outside lane of a multi-lane roundabout, you're only going through the roundabout. You're continuing on straight in the direction you're going," he said. "If you're in the inside lane, then you can navigate around the roundabout. So if you need to make a left hand turn onto another road in the roundabout, you want to be in the inside lane."

And finally, do they work?

"Yes, we have seen a lot of our traffic congestion has gone down because of the roundabouts,” he explained.

Officer Rowe said roundabouts can help with speeding, even though that's not their primary goal.

A report by the Federal Highway Administration and Insurance for Highway Safety said that roundabouts reduce fatality collisions by a staggering 90 percent. It also said injury crashes were reduced by 75 percent and a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions.

VERIFY: Sources

Washington State Department of Transportation

Federal Highway Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Officer Joseph Rowe, Conway Police Department

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