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 Civic Hatchback just went on sale.

Honda

The Honda Civic is one of the most popular and well-known cars of any type. Honda keeps refining the Civic formula to the point that it seems hard for the car to get any better, but that's what we're here to talk about. The 2022 model year sees the Civic enter its eleventh generation, and updates for the new model year make the car more upscale, more refined, and safer than ever before. Honda released the Civic Sedan first, but the Hatchback is now on the streets. Both cars are excellent, but we want to take a closer look at the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback. Here are three things to know about the car.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback The Civic Hatchback is almost as practical as a small SUV, and it's way more fun to drive. Honda

Cargo Space

Looking at the Civic Hatchback, or any modern Civic for that matter, it's easy to start believing that there's nothing to it - that you can't use it as a proper family car. That isn't the case here, nor is it the case with the 2022 Civic Sedan. The Hatchback starts with 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, and the rear bench folds flat to open up even more room for gear. That's shy of a compact crossover, but better than many subcompact crossovers - and the Civic is infinitely more fun to drive than either. The Honda CR-V, for example, offers 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats, but the subcompact HR-V offers just 23.2 cubic feet of space. I know which vehicle I'd rather drive, and it's the Civic Hatchback by miles and miles.


2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Clever design elevates the Civic above its competition.Honda

Refinement and Design

Honda's redesign of the Civic started with the Sedan, which released first. Its interior carries premium feeling materials and a grown-up design that is at odds with the Civic's reasonable price tag. There are several clever design touches like a singular metal grille that runs the length of the dash. The front air vents are concealed behind it and feature thoughtfully designed control knobs. It's a detail that isn't seen in other cars at this price point, and it's one that elevates the Civic from a budget car to one that feels special.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback All Civics come packed with safety tech.Honda

Safety Features and Crash Test Scores

The Honda Civic Sedan and Hatchback both earned Top Safety Pick + awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Vehicles earn the honor by scoring "Good," "Advanced," or "Superior" in all categories, including headlights. On top of that, Honda equips the cars with plenty of advanced driver aids, including forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, collision mitigation braking, and road departure mitigation. Blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are available in higher trims.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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