Plenty of people have heard of and used, some reluctantly, roundabouts. I've heard some people call them traffic circles. Actually, a traffic circle and a roundabout are two very different types of intersections, and I found a handy graphic that illustrates just that.

Washington County, in the 7-county Metro area, posted a graphic showing the similarities and differences between a traffic circle and a roundabout.

According to the graphic, "both [a traffic circle and roundabout] involve vehicles moving around a circular island and both follow normal traffic laws, but they work very differently."

Image Credit: Washington County
Image Credit: Washington County
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Some key differences/similarities pointed out between the two:

  • The traffic circle is "striped concentrically, like a “bulls-eye”. The inside lane must change lanes to the outside in order to exit the circle", while "a roundabout is striped as a spiral. Do not change lanes in a roundabout. As with any intersection, choose the proper lane before entering."
  • Traffic circles have low capacity and are inefficient; they are used primarily for visual appeal whereas roundabouts are "able to handle large volumes of traffic and are used for efficiency and safety."
  • With both, you should drive through the middle as traffic circles generally can contain "a park or business" and roundabouts generally have decorative grasses, planters, or concrete barriers in the middle.

Whether you are a fan of roundabouts or not, it seems like semi-drivers are the ones who legit have complaints generally due to the size or lack there of the roundabout, they are seemingly here to stay.

When they started popping up, I wasn't a fan, but having driven through them more regularly I can see why they make more sense than a stop sign as in general traffic DOES keep moving.

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