Half of Pennsylvania’s Roundabouts Show A Decrease In Crashes

08.03.16 | Bob Price

Officials from PennDOT believe a roundabout in the Back Mountain of Luzerne County will improve traffic congestion and safety in the Dallas area. So we looked into how safe other roundabouts proved to be across the state.

More and more in Pennsylvania, those familiar green, yellow, and red traffic lights are getting the red light themselves. Dozens of conventional intersections across the state are planned to be replaced with roundabouts, like what will happen in the center of Dallas.

“What you're doing is increasing traffic flow and improving safety for the motorists that travel through the area,” said PennDOT’s James May.

But PennDOT’s own data, obtained by Newswatch 16, shows of 10 roundabouts now in Pennsylvania, only half resulted in a decrease in the number of overall crashes. One had no improvement, and four actually showed an increase in crashes.

In Beaver County, for example, crashes jumped 600 percent, from one in four years to six in the same time period.

We showed what we found to drivers in Dallas.

“Most people don't even know how to travel on a circle or a roundabout,” noted one driver.

There is evidence switching to a roundabout can decrease major injuries, like what happened in the roundabout built in York County. It eliminated fatalities there.

But now drivers in Dallas worry about what kind of impact the roundabout will have when the project is completed.

“This is one of the intersections that's been identified as having a large number of crashes take place, because you have so many different roads coming into to one merge point there, with all five roads coming into one intersection,” said PennDOT’s James May.  “So when they look at that, this is the type of intersection that is ideal for a roundabout because it will improve the traffic flow for the area and it will decrease the number of injury-related crashes."

The project is expected to be completed in 2019.