Official Push for Roundabouts Instead of Traffic Signals at Deadly Intersection

In the wake of Portland’s news channel, KGW’s report that two young women, both Pacific University students, were killed in an auto accident at the intersection of Oregon 47 and Verboort Road near Forest Grove, community members called for traffic signals.  These two women were not the first to die at this location.  A 16-year-old high school student was killed in a similar crash at the intersection in 2007 and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports that between January 2008 and July 2013 there were 27car crashes at the intersection.  Community members had also called for traffic signals after the 2007 death, but none were ever installed.

Now, rather than acting on the public call for traffic signals, officials are pushing for a different solution: roundabouts.  The Oregonian reports that installing a roundabout is ODOT’s plan, and that it’s supported by Forest Grove Fire Marshal David Nemeyer.  The Oregonian cites astudy that says that while the public usually prefers traffic signals, support for roundabouts over signals will increase once the roundabouts are installed and people become used to them.

How to Drive a Roundabout Safely

Roundabouts can be very confusing if one has not used them regularly, but the rules for driving roundabouts are fairly simple.  The Washington State Department of Transportation has created a website that explains how to use roundabouts safely.  The website lists four key things to remember about driving roundabouts:

  •     Yield to drivers who are already in the roundabout;
  •     Stay in your lane and do not change lanes;
  •     Do not stop while you are in the roundabout; and
  •     Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles in the roundabout.

The website also offers a five-part video series on roundabouts including specific information for pedestrians andcyclists.  This information can be particularly important for both young and elderly people who are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in pedestrian or cycling accidents.

Signaling and Roundabouts

One thing not covered on Washington’s website is Oregon’s law concerning using turn signals in a roundabout.  Oregon law states:

A driver commits the offense of failure to use an appropriate signal for a turn, lane change, stop, or exit from a roundabout if: (1) the person does not make the appropriate signal under the various provisions of ORS 811.395.  This situation takes place in circumstances where a driver is:

(a) Turning, changing lanes, stopping, or suddenly decelerating, or

(b) Exiting from any position within a roundabout [ORS 811.400].

NOTE: This section does not authorize the use of hand signals when the use of lights is required under the provisions of ORS 811.405 (Failure to signal without lights).

Whether a roundabout is the right solution for this deadly intersection will only be determined with time.  What is known is that something has to be done, as too many people have already been injured or lost their lives.  Hopefully ODOT will take action to prevent more senseless deaths.

If you have been injured in an accident in Oregon, contact a personal injury attorney today for information on how you can begin filing a claim.

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