Most of us have heard the argument that roundabouts are safer than other types of intersections. This is for many reasons, including the fact that when collisions do occur at roundabouts, they are low speed, one direction collisions. At least one of these things turned out to be (almost) untrue last week, when some local drivers had quite a scare at a Kemptville roundabout.
A motorist travelling through Kemptville on Highway 43 attempted to enter the roundabout and go in the wrong direction. “I was behind the next car,” said an anonymous fellow motorist who witnessed the situation. “A lot of honking… but no accidents.” This ultimately shows a silver lining that exists when something goes wrong at roundabouts – low speed!
The Times recently featured an article sharing the thoughts of a Highway 43 homeowner who was displeased about the announcement that the intersection of County Roads 43 and 22 will soon have a roundabout installed. Some social media users commented on the Times post agreeing with the idea that the intersection should have a set of traffic lights installed instead. However, the majority of social media users seem to support the original plan, for a roundabout.
The truth is that all traffic control measures have their ups and downs. Roundabouts are safe because they force drivers to slow to a speed of about 30 km/h. However, they can cause congestion, particularly for those turning onto the county roads from nearby side roads, owing to the fact that roundabouts don’t usually cause “traffic gaps” for cars further up the road to turn in safely. Another issue is noise – roundabouts cause a steadier flow of traffic that can increase noise for those who live near them.
Of course, roundabouts have benefits as well. In the case of the proposed roundabout at County Roads 43 and 22, drivers turning onto the very busy County Road 43 from County Road 22 – or even those simply trying to cross over to the other side – will no longer have to take their lives in their hands! And as the situation last week in Kemptville shows, even when something goes wrong at a roundabout, it doesn’t go badly wrong. A collision at 30 km/h is much less serious than one that occurs when a driver misses a red traffic light at 60 km/h (or potentially much more when speeding is a factor).
The issue of roundabouts will always cause debates in North Grenville. Let’s keep the debates healthy, and be thankful for avoided tragedies!