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Roundabouts may make rural intersections safer in North Carolina

Two-lane rural highways in North Carolina can be dangerous, especially at intersections. This was certainly true at one high-speed spot where only a stop sign was in place to manage traffic flow. Following a fatal accident, the Department of Transportation cleared vegetation and installed signs letting drivers know about the upcoming stop. Despite such efforts, there were two more serious accidents at the same interaction. The solution that ended up producing noticeable results was the installation of a rural roundabout, which forces traffic to flow in one direction around a central island.

Roundabouts don't necessarily reduce the amount of car accidents at an intersection like traffic lights do. However, accidents at rural roundabouts are less likely to result in fatalities, and injuries tend to be minor. This is because drivers only need to look to their left to determine if it's safe to continue. It cost the state about $1 million to install the roundabout at that one problem intersection although potential savings from injury and accident costs could be twice this amount.

An engineering analysis showed that the roundabout would likely reduce accidents with injuries by nearly 90 percent. Because of the success at this one intersection, the Department of Transportation has plans to make similar conversions at other rural, high-speed intersections in the state. North Carolina is also one of several states participating in the Vision Zero initiative, a group effort involving law enforcement officers, first responders and other officials aimed at making state roadways safer for everyone.

With car accidents that result in personal injuries, an attorney may review traffic cam footage to determine if negligent actions by other drivers could have been a contributing factor. Results from accident recreations or investigations may also be considered along with witness accounts. Possible driver distraction issues are sometimes discovered by looking at smartphone records to track device activity at the time of the accident.

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