Long-term crash trends at single- and double-lane roundabouts in Washington State

Hu, Wen / Cicchino, Jessica B.
Journal of Safety Research
In press

Introduction: Despite the proven safety benefits, crashes still occur at roundabouts. This study examined long-term trends in total crash counts, crash severity, and crashes involving common driver errors (failing to yield the right-of-way and speeding) in the period following the completion of single- and double-lane roundabouts in Washington state.
Method: Crashes occurring during 2010–16 at single- and double-lane roundabouts completed between 2009 and 2015 in Washington state were included. Poisson regression examined changes in annual total crash counts over time. Logistic regression estimated average annual changes in the odds that a crash involved an evident/incapacitating/fatal injury and that a crash involved a driver error. Regression models were estimated for single- and double-lane roundabouts separately.
Results: Annual total crash counts declined significantly by 8.8% over time at double-lane roundabouts and increased nonsignificantly over time at single-lane roundabouts. The study estimated a significant 32.1% annual reduction in the odds that a crash involved an evident or incapacitating injury at double-lane roundabouts and a nonsignificant 18.9% reduction at single-lane roundabouts. There was a significant 10.6% annual decline in the odds that a crash was right-of-way related at double-lane roundabouts and a significant 19.1% annual decline in the odds that a crash was speeding-related at single-lane roundabouts. The odds that a crash involved a right-of-way violation at single-lane roundabouts or speeding at double-lane roundabouts did not change significantly over time.
Conclusions: Although the safety benefits of converting intersections to single-lane roundabouts have been well established, conversions to double-lane roundabouts have been associated with smaller reductions in total and injury crashes or increases in total crashes. The current study demonstrates that safety can improve over time at double-lane roundabouts as drivers gain experience navigating them. At the same time, it is important that roundabouts include design elements that will prevent right-of-way mistakes and reduce speeds.