Could Baltimore’s Auto Injury Accident Rate be Improved by More Roundabouts?

You may not know it, but Baltimore is way behind the rest of Maryland in terms of traffic roundabouts. Why is this important? For anyone who has been injured in a head-on collision at a busy intersection or knows someone who was killed by an inattentive driver turning in front of traffic, this is a very timely subject.

Recent reports indicate that the City of Baltimore has been seeking Federal aid to help fund construction of traffic circles, or roundabouts. Although the average driver may not like traffic circles, they are very popular with highway engineers, who believe that roundabouts can save lives. In fact, according to the State Highway Administration, there has never been a fatal accident at an intersection that has been replaced with a roundabout.

As Maryland automobile accident attorneys, we have represented our share of injury accident victims, as well as the families of those killed in fatal car crashes. Any traffic system that can reduce the carnage on our roadways is a benefit. Apparently, additional roundabouts can help accomplish this.

The State Highway Administration says that serious injuries have been reduced by 85 percent at locations where a traffic circle has replaced an intersection all around Maryland. And crashes, overall, were down by 60 percent. It would seem that the state’s engineers can’t say enough good things about them, which is why Baltimore is pushing for additional aid to fund a number of projects around the city.

Such traffic circles have become common in Maryland’s counties since the first one was built in Howard County in 1993, but Baltimore itself has been slower to adopt these improved traffic safety designs. There are currently two roundabouts in the city — one on Wilkens Avenue in Southwest Baltimore and one at the end of President Street in Harbor East — but neither is in a heavily traveled corridor that carries a high volume of traffic.

The type of roundabout the city wants to install is different from New Jersey-style rotaries or from the signal-controlled traffic circles common in Washington. The Maryland style of roundabout requires vehicles entering the roundabout to yield to those already there. Highway engineers say the roundabouts’ design makes it virtually impossible to have a deadly head-on or T-bone crash. According to experts, most of the collisions that do occur cause nothing more than property damage, and that would be a sizeable improvement over the status quo.

Baltimore seeks U.S. aid for traffic circles,, May 24, 2009

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