Mississippi officials: Roundabouts greatly reducing severe, fatal crashes up to 90% at intersections

Published 6:11 am Monday, February 19, 2024

The use of roundabouts in Mississippi has greatly reduced fatal and severe crashes. officials report.

A recent report from the Mississippi Department of Transportation provided examples of roundabouts in the Magnolia State that have seen a major reduction — sometimes up to 90% — in fatal crashes compared to the same intersections before the construction of the traffic flow devices.

One example of this is the roundabout under construction at the intersection of U.S. 72 and State Route 7 in Benton County, which is partially opened to traffic. The $7.8 million contract was awarded to Xcavators Inc. of Falkner. The roundabout gave the most cost-beneficial reduction for fatal and severe crashes at this intersection. Other alternatives were considered, but construction costs and Right-of-Way considerations weighed heavily in the decision not to pursue those.

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There is still work remaining on the project, and it is currently on schedule to be complete in summer 2024. Motorists are asked to take extra precaution and watch out for roadside workers as work continues at the intersection.

Studies have shown that roundabouts don’t eliminate all crashes, but crashes that do happen in a roundabout are often less severe. Rural roundabouts typically see a 90% reduction in severe and fatal crashes. By reducing vehicle speed, the number of conflict points and the crash types, fatal and severe crashes are decreased.

Roundabouts force motorists to slow down without requiring them to stop. The U.S. 72 roundabout intersection was designed to allow traffic to safely proceed through the intersection without stopping, eliminating congestion while removing speed, a primary risk factor that has played a role in crash concerns there.

Motorists that are new to this type of roundabout will have several traffic improvements to guide them through the intersection. Splitter islands have been installed to alert drivers to reduce their speed on the approach. Curve geometry as you approach the roundabout will gradually slow down motorists below 25 mph as they enter the roundabout. There will also be overhead guide signs and lighting to ensure motorists maintain proper lanes to access their intended destination.

A roundabout installed at the State Route 7 and State Route 9W intersection south of Oxford in Lafayette County a year ago is already proving to make that intersection safer. Between 2016 and 2021 there were 53 crashes at the intersection, including four fatalities. Preliminary data collected between January 2022 and September of this year recorded only six total crashes at the intersection, with only one crash resulting in any injury. This represents a 78% reduction in crashes and a 100% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes thus far.