Tips on navigating Bellingham's traffic roundabouts

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you’ll see them more on more on Bellingham roads. Roundabouts! They’re becoming a popular alternative to conventional intersections because they reduce accidents and severity of crashes that do occur. Also, they keep the flow of traffic moving more efficiently.

While roundabouts come in many different shapes and sizes, they have the following traits in common:

  • Drivers must yield to traffic in the roundabout (entry yield control)
  • Reduced speed inside the roundabout, usually 15-25 mph
  • Counter-clockwise flow around a center island

Bellingham has its share of roundabouts, and here’s a map showing where you might find one in the state Washington if you’re curious. Luckily, nothing like the world’s most confusing roundabout as seen in Swindon, England, is in the works at least for Bellingham in the near future. Here's a fun video showing how these crazy roundabouts work.

Here’s why they’re so handy, from information found in the AASHTO Highway Safety Manual

A traditional four-way intersection has 32 conflict points– eight merging (or joining), eight diverging (or separating) and 16 crossing. By comparison, there are only eight total conflict points at a roundabout that replaces an equivalent traditional intersection – four merging and four diverging. In addition to the dramatic reduction in conflict points, the type of conflicts that still occur are in the same-direction and result in substantially less severity and chance of injury.

Regular readers of this blog well know by now that Bill Coats Law is big on safety tips. So, here are a few few, courtesy of the WA State Department of Transportation:

  • Keep on the lookout for signage as you approach the roundabout. Pay attention to the speed limit.
  • Slow down and scan for pedestrians on nearby crosswalks.
  • As you approach the dashed yellow line that marks your entrance, look to your left for oncoming traffic in or entering the roundabout.
  • Yield to traffic in the roundabout, in both single or multi-lanes.
  • If there’s no traffic in the roundabout, enter without yielding and drive to your exit.
  • Don’t stop while in the roundabout.
  • Use your turn signal before exiting.
  • Choose your lane in a multi-lane roundabout, based on where your exit will be. Driving straight or right, keep to the right; to drive straight, do a U-turn or make a left turn, choose the left lane.
  • Don’t change lanes in the roundabout.
  • Avoid driving next to large or long vehicles in the roundabouts, as they may need more area to navigate a turn.

There you have it. If ever you need help with your car accident settlement claim, call me. I have over two decades experience fighting insurance companies who are reluctant to pay full, fair claims. My office is in downtown Bellingham, and we are here to help you. Simply click the chat window or use my contact form to start with a free consultation about your case.

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