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Traffic fatalities may drop with rural roundabouts

Missouri drivers might be safer on roads that have roundabouts compared to those that attempt to control traffic in other ways such as with traffic lights. As part of the Vision Zero initiative, for example, North Carolina is building rural roundabouts throughout the state.

Vision Zero is a program that started in Sweden in the 1990s. It aims to eliminate all fatalities from motor vehicle accidents, and it has spread throughout the world. Traffic lights at intersections tend to reduce the number of accidents, but the ones that do occur are more like to result in severe injuries or fatalities. Roundabouts do not cut down on the number of car crashes, but they reduce the number of fatalities and serious accidents. The accidents that occur in them tend to result in only minor injuries.

At one rural intersection in the state, a 21-year-old woman died when a pickup truck driver ran a stop sign in 2011. After vegetation was cut back, signs warning of the stop ahead were put up, but there were two more accidents. Neither were fatal, but both resulted in severe injuries. In June, a roundabout was installed that cost $1.2 million. However, according to state engineers, the savings from lower injury and accident costs would be more than twice that annually.

Usually, if one driver causes a motor vehicle accident because of speeding, distraction, driving under the influence or for other reasons, that negligent motorist is responsible for the expenses of anyone injured in the accident. In some cases, even though the driver is at fault, the driver will not be charged or charges will be dropped. However, the people who are injured may still want to pursue a civil suit if they did not receive sufficient compensation.