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July 31, 2005

Trying to make a left turn at virtually any busy intersection can be not only a headache, but often suceeds in also backing up traffic. In an effort to eliminate this problem, some cities have installed roundabouts – intersections designed to accommodate traffic flow in one direction around a central island – as an alternative to left-turn intersections. University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) researchers, in a study recently published in the proceedings of the 2005 Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting, looked at the efficacy of roundabouts vs. traditional left-turn intersections. “We found that roundabouts consistently outperform traditional intersections,” said study principal investigator Virginia Sisiopiku, Ph.D. “Using roundabouts in areas where there is high left-turn volume significantly improves traffic flow and safety. Other benefits include less fuel consumption and air pollution since vehicles spend less time idling in line to turn.”

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