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Traffic circles are a viable alternative to a traditional intersection with traffic lights and can help cars save money on gas.

Throughout the country, towns are substituting the conventional traffic light at intersections for traffic circles. These traffic circles are smaller than what most people are used to. The diameter has decreased from 100 feet to 30 feet to help lower accident rates, and prevent unneeded idling. When placed in the right areas, with low to moderate traffic flow, it can have sustainable and positive impacts.

When introduced to the United States in the 1950’s, motorists found traffic circles difficult and confusing. The problem with the circles rested on improper public understanding of laws and poor planning of converging roads. The diameter was quite large, easily confusing drivers on which exit to take and where to go.

The goal of a traffic circle is for automobiles to travel at a low speed, around 35 miles per hour, and only yield for oncoming cars then return to their previous speed. In a perfect situation, a car would have to brake minimally and pass right through the circle. At a traffic light, a majority of the time the vehicle will have to wait for it to change from red to green to continue along the road. There are high levels of accidents that occur at traffic lights due to distractions and impatience.

A typical driver spends a total of nine minutes a day stopping at traffic lights.  Over the span of a year, a car can waste up to $200 for just idling at traffic lights. Think of a traffic circle as a fuel saving device to decrease idling time, save money, reduce emissions, and provide gas savings.

A traffic circle significantly decreases the number of accidents that happen at a typical intersection. By traveling at a slower rate, the chance of an accident significantly decreases. Drivers will have more time to judge and react to other vehicles in or entering the traffic circle. A recent study found that average crash rate for automobiles entering a traffic circle was reduced by 84 percent. Fatal crashes were mostly eliminated. This is actually pretty awesome. The traffic circle eliminates the chance of “T-Bone” accidents which causes the greatest number of fatalities on the road.

Traffic circles are an excellent substitution for traffic lights. Traffic circles decrease the time cars idle which can save money on gas, and lowers the accident rate, saving thousands of lives each year.

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