Roundabouts cause confusion for some drivers

Roundabouts provide a way to keep the flow of traffic smoother, but some students have mixed feelings about how well people know how to use them.

Roundabouts are apart of daily driving in Europe, but in Fresno they are not as common.

“They aren’t that common on the west coast and are usually in parking lots where people are driving at a lower speed,” Amy Armstrong, public information officer for University Police, said. “People get confused.”

The roundabouts on campus are not in parking lots, but on semi-busy streets. There are two roundabouts on campus: one at Barstow and Chestnut Avenues and one in front of the Save Mart Center.

When using a roundabout drivers go around counterclockwise, those already in the roundabout do not need to stop unless to prevent an accident. For the people who are looking to enter a roundabout, they must yield and wait until it is clear to enter.

“People tend to be uncomfortable when using a roundabout and don’t really know who has the right of way,” Armstrong said. “But they are designed if used right, to keep the flow of traffic moving, unlike a four-way stop.”

Business entrepreneur major Lauren Hebert said she uses the roundabouts on campus about two to five times a week. Hebert feels that for the most part the roundabouts are OK and that a good amount of people seems to know how to use them, but there is always somebody who doesn’t.

“I almost took someone out with my truck once when I had just got in the roundabout when this lady who didn’t even look and pulled out in front of me,” Herbert said. “I came within inches of hitting her side door and she just kept going like nothing happened.”

Animal science major Carlie Hughes said she finds roundabouts easier in some ways as there is no light or stop sign to cause traffic to be at a standstill. However, Hughes said from time to time traffic would be backed up at busier parts of the day.

“In the morning it saves me time when I come for class,” Hughes said.

Hughes said she uses the roundabouts at least two times a day.

“The roundabouts were apart of the Campus Pointe Project,” Armstrong said. “An email was sent out to the community on how to use roundabouts when they were first put in.”

Hughes said she has witnessed one accident within a roundabout. She said she believes someone rear-ended another car.

When events are being held on campus, like the Save Mart Center, directing traffic through a roundabout is easier.

“We can use cones to direct traffic to go the way needed instead of using officers, which means less man power,” Armstrong said.

Both Hebert and Hughes agree that they weren’t taught directly how to use a roundabout.

According to the University Police Department website, drivers are advised to reduce their speed and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists when approaching a roundabout.

Once within a roundabout, drivers have the right-of-way over traffic entering the roundabout. Drivers should maintain a slow speed and signal when exiting the roundabout.

Drivers should also be aware of traffic signs displaying the speed limit and when to yield.

Hebert said trial and error and using common sense was how she learned to use a roundabout.

“When cars were coming I waited and when it was clear I went,” Hebert said. “Oh, and there is this thing called a yield sign, people don’t even bother to read signs.”

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