Virginians Can Expect to See More Roundabouts in Future

PHOTO: Roundabout, courtesy of Adisurahman
PHOTO: Roundabout, courtesy of Adisurahman

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Commonwealth currently has at least 40 roundabouts opened to traffic, however, an additional 51 are planned and are currently in different states of development.

State officials say that VDOT’s official review committee designated with approving roundabouts is averaging roughly one new review each week.

Though very common throughout Europe (there are roughly 20,000 roundabouts in France, and 10,000 in the United Kingdom), the United States has been slow to move in the direction of roundabouts, with only about 1,000 nationwide — with the first one being introduced to the states in 1990.

Virginia transportation officials, however, are embracing the modern solution to criss-crossing roads, calling them “one of the safest types of intersection designs.”

Still, many American drivers are not thrilled to approach a roundabout while driving down a roadway.  To help ease anxieties at roundabouts, VDOT has issued the following tips for drivers maneuvering roundabouts:

  • When approaching a roundabout, slow down.  Look for street and direction signs posted along the roadside before reaching the roundabout.
  • When arriving at the roundabout, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles already in the roundabout.  When the way is clear, you may enter the roundabout.
  • While inside the roundabout, stay in your lane until you are ready to exit.  Use your vehicle’s right turn signal to let drivers know what you want to do.
  • Do not change lanes or take an exit before checking for vehicles that may be containing through the roundabout in the lane next to you or behind you.

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  1. To really appreciate roundabouts you have to visit Swindon England. Where else would you find the Magic Roundabout?

    • Swindon is a ring junction. The UK term ’roundabout’ does not mean the same thing as the US term.
      US modern roundabouts are called continental roundabouts in the UK.

  2. Finally!! We have been so slow to adopt this simple and effective intersection design. Allows traffic to flow! I can’t wait!

  3. The story photo is a traffic circle/rotary, not a modern roundabout like VA would build.
    Many people confuse other and older styles of circular intersections with modern roundabouts. High speed, east coast rotaries, large multi-lane traffic circles (Arc D’Triomphe, Dupont Circle), and small neighborhood traffic circles are not modern roundabouts. If you want to see the difference between a traffic circle, a rotary (UK traffic roundabout) and a modern roundabout (UK continental roundabout).
    Go to to see pictures.
    NJ traffic circles:
    The Brits even call a merry-go-round a kid’s roundabout.

  4. Less delay is the second most common reason to construct a modern roundabout. Their 15-20 mph operating speed is a lot faster than zero at a stop sign or stop light.
    Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world – the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes – (much more so than comparable signals). Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA.

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