Safety First

IIHS: Roundabouts are safer than traffic signals and stop signs

Roundabouts are safer than traffic lights according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Photo by Pete Ark/Getty Images

New information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) points out that roundabouts are safer than traffic signals and stop signs. Roundabouts are one of 20 evidence-based safety countermeasures recommended by the Federal Highway Administration.

Studies of intersections in the United States converted from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts have found reductions in injury crashes of 72-80 percent and reductions in all crashes of 35-47 percent.

The logic comes down to engineering. The tight circle of a roundabout requires drivers to slow down so they can safety maneuver around the circle. Because of the ingress and egress of the roundabout's design, right-angle, left-turn, and head-on collisions are unlikely.

roundabout Europe Traffic circles, rotaries, and roundabouts are common all over the world.Photo by supergenijalac/Getty Images

Modern roundabouts build on the traditional rotary design. According to IIHS, the new style of roundabout requires vehicles to negotiate a sharper curve to enter resulting in slower speeds within the circle.

According to IIHS, research shows that traffic flow improves after intersections are converted to roundabouts. Additionally, there is less vehicle idling, which results in fewer vehicle emissions at the location.

Older traffic circles sometimes have traffic signals dictating the right of way but most modern ones only have yield signs. Some modern roundabouts feature flow-through lanes which allow shortcutting for partings simply going a quarter of the way around.

Roundabouts aren't just safer for vehicles. They have distinct advantages for pedestrians as well as they are able to walk on sidewalks around the perimeter rather than crossing only one direction at a time. Crossing distances are usually shorter than they would be during a traditional frolic through the roadway and vehicles are frequently moving slower than they usually would.

What we now know as the roundabout gained popularity in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and is seeing expanded use throughout the U.S. and Europe in modern times. The first modern roundabouts were popularized in Nevada in the 1990s.

While there are benefits for motorists and pedestrians, it comes at the cost of cyclists who are often required to ride in the road and can find themselves caught up amongst vehicles in the rotary when speciality lanes are not present.

Cycling races often bemoan the uptick in rotaries, which cause hazards to racers at speed while crashes often happening as the peloton splits to traverse the obstacle and the surrounding lane dividers.

Some states, including New York and Virginia, have adopted "roundabout first" policies requiring that roundabouts be considered a preferred alternative when building new intersections or upgrading older ones.

Up-front construction costs of roundabouts can be pricey, but the overall cost of maintenance once built is generally cheaper, according to IIHS. There is also the benefit of a lessened cost of police and firefighter time spent dealing with accidents at high-risk intersections in addition to the human life toll.

The service life of a roundabout is significantly longer, approximately 25 years, compared with 10 years for a typical traffic signal.

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The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

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Highway safety

U.S. roadway fatalities up in 2021

Ford, Microsoft team to use quantum-inspired technology to understand traffic congestion
Photo coursesy of Ford Motor Company

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just released its estimates on traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2021 and the numbers aren't promising. In the first quarter of this year alone, 8,730 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Last year's cumulative numbers weren't much better, coming in higher than any year since 2007.


U.S. Roadways Traffic may be going up, but fuel fill ups are down according to the latest research automotivemap.com


The grim statistics represent a 10.5 percent increase from the same time period last year, a time when we were already marveling at the numbers. Further data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicate that the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased by 2.1 percent, which makes the increase in fatalities all the more striking a statistic. Initial projections pegged the number of fatalities per 100 million VMT at 1.12, but it instead climbed to 1.26 fatalities per 100 million VMT.

Regionally, most areas in the United Statessaw an increase, though two did not. The Midwest region, which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas did not change, while the mid-east coast states of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia actually saw a six percent decline in fatality counts.


Highway 1 big sur Highway 1 near Big Sur includes the Bixby Creek Bridge, a famous landmark. Photo by\u00a0Getty Images


What's behind all of this? Last year, the NHTSA reported that, with fewer people on the roads, those that were driving were engaging in risky behavior. What's more, Automotive News reports, that the number of deaths involving people not wearing seatbelts increased 15 percent last year and speeding deaths climbed 10 percent.

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