Letter to the Editor - September 5, 2019
Roundabouts are good for drivers…and the planet
As a longtime resident of Daniel Island, I have noted with some consternation letters to the editor that have expressed opposition to the roundabout. The simple fact is that roundabouts are safer, faster, and more environmentally friendly than traditional intersections. The safety factor, critically, is true for both drivers and pedestrians.
Numerous studies from across the country and across our state confirm this. The South Carolina Department of Transportation noted in a study of 12 single lane roundabouts that total crashes were reduced 66% and injury and fatal crashes were reduced 79% and 100%, respectively. Since cars spend less time idling than they would in a traditional intersection, roundabouts are also more environmentally friendly because they lead to less vehicular pollution. Roundabouts are good for drivers and for the planet.
National studies have also shown that roundabouts reduce pedestrian-involved crashes by as much as 40%. Even if we accept some letter-writers’ anecdotal hypotheticals of pedestrians changing their routes to avoid the new roundabout as gospel, that cannot explain a 40% decline in pedestrian-involved crashes. Roundabouts are good for pedestrians, as well.
Roundabouts’ design forces drivers to slow down to better accommodate pedestrians. While there are no stoplights, the warning lights are impossible to miss and clear sightlines ensure that pedestrians are always visible to drivers.
The question of a roundabout’s suitability for a community involves many factors, but it must ultimately fall in favor of the common good. Since the intersection of Daniel Island Drive and Seven Farms is one of the highest volume intersections on the entire island, a roundabout is the most reasonable solution that manages to both maintain traffic flow and protect pedestrians.
I do share concerns about high school drivers. I would suggest that rather than hobbling our infrastructure to pander to the incompetence of Generation Z, we should ensure that they are actually able to drive on our roads before we give them a license. I would urge the SCDMV to include a roundabout as part of the road test, and if 16-year-olds can’t figure out how to drive in one, they shouldn’t be licensed to operate a vehicle.
(Editor’s Note: Max Bodach, a graduate of Bishop England High School, is currently a rising junior at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida).