How Roundabouts Help Improve Transportation in Lake County

Lake County constructed its first roundabout in 2010 at the intersection of Riverwoods Road and Everett Road just west of Interstate 94 near Lincolnshire.

Since then, three more have been built in the county with another one to be under construction in 2014. It’s a long way to catch up to Carmel, Indiana, which features 80 roundabouts in a community of 80,000 people. Yet, Lake County has embraced roundabouts to improve traffic safety and reduce congestion. “And they have character,” says Martin Buehler, former Director of the Lake County Transportation Alliance.

Roundabouts are circular intersections that allow vehicles to travel through the intersection slowly without stopping (a traffic circle looks similar but requires vehicles to stop before entering the circle). Cars entering the roundabout yield to the vehicle on the left. Less stopping results in fewer traffic delays.

Studies have shown that roundabouts, at the appropriate locations, are safer than traditional four-way intersections with traffic signals. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported a 75 percent decrease in crashes.

Studies by the IIHS and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have shown that roundabouts typically achieve: 

  • A 37 percent reduction in overall collisions
  • A 75 percent reduction in injury collisions
  • A 90 percent reduction in fatality collisions
  • A 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions

Buehler says that roundabouts improve safety in part because vehicle speeds are drastically reduced, and any crashes that might occur tend to be sideswipe incidents. “So navigating roundabouts is very similar to driving in a parking lot,” he says.

In addition to improved safety, roundabouts enhance Lake County’s character as a pastoral place that moves at a slower pace. “Roundabouts provide opportunities for better roadway aesthetics, and fit with community character,” says Buehler.

To learn more, visit Lake County’s website.