Charleston is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. It is also one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. One study conducted in 2014 found that of around 4100 total moves in South Carolina, nearly 61% (or around 2512) were people moving into the area. Charleston saw 416 families move in. Only Portland, Oregon saw more in-bound movers. Another estimate from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce says that the Charleston metropolitan area sees an average of 43 newcomers each day.
With all of these new families moving in, it is no wonder that traffic in Charleston has gotten so heavy. And with an increase in traffic, that means an uptick in the potential for car accidents. Mt. Pleasant – one of the most popular parts of Charleston to live in – thinks they have a solution, however.
The Mt. Pleasant town council recently came to an agreement regarding two of the town’s busiest roads. After nine years of discussion and debate, an agreement has finally been reached: the town will be putting in a roundabout on Coleman Boulevard and Chuck Dawley Boulevard. Final bids for the project are expected to be submitted in February, with anticipated total costs hovering around the $22 million mark. The town has already spent over $8 million on the planning of the project.
But why has Mt. Pleasant decided to put in a roundabout? According to the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, nearly a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the United States are associated with intersections. The USDOT says roundabouts are proven to be safer and more efficient types of intersections than those regulated by stop lights or stop signs. The FHWA calls roundabouts proven safety countermeasures because they substantially reduce injury-causing (or even deadly) traffic accidents, and they especially benefit bicyclists and pedestrians. According to one manual, roundabouts reduce the types of crashes that seriously hurt or kill people by between 78 and 82%.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also finds that roundabouts are safer alternatives than traditional intersections. The IIHS notes that common crashes that occur in traditional intersections are right-angle (T-bone accidents), left-turn collisions, and head-on collisions. High speed can make these accidents especially devastating. Roundabouts eliminate the possibility of these kinds of accidents because it forces the flow of traffic to slow down considerably while moving in the same direction. Roundabouts also reduce rear-end collisions because there are no abrupt stops for red lights and no one speeding up to make it through a yellow light. Studies cited by the IIHS report intersections converted to roundabouts in the US saw reductions in injury-causing accidents of between 72-80%, and a reduction in overall crashes of 35-47%. Studies in Europe and Australia have reported similar findings. A 2004 study estimated that if 10% of traditional intersections in the US had been converted to roundabouts, 46,000 crashes would have been prevented, including 183 fatal collisions and 30,000 injury-causing collisions.
The MythBusters even took on the task of investigating roundabouts. While they weren’t specifically concerned with the accident-reducing aspect of roundabouts, they did determine that roundabouts can service more traffic volume than a traditional four-way intersection. The roundabout was able to efficiently allow 20% more drivers to pass through an intersection. The traditional intersection allowed for 385 drivers to pass through it. The same intersection, converted to a roundabout, allowed 460 drivers to pass through it in the same amount of time.
Viewed as a benefit to pedestrians, roundabouts also have a lot going for them. The reduced speed that cars are forced to take in roundabouts leads to significantly higher chances of survival for pedestrians that are hit by cars. When hit by a vehicle that is travelling at 20 MPH (the average speed for a roundabout), 9 out of 10 pedestrians will survive. If that same vehicle is travelling at 30 MPH, the pedestrian’s chance of survival drops to 5 out of 10. And at 40 MPH, a pedestrian only has a 1 in 10 chance of surviving the impact.
Based on these statistics, it seems that Mt. Pleasant is on to something. It is hard to imagine that a roundabout on two of the town’s busiest roads could be a bad idea. While it is obviously impossible to completely prevent accidents, it would seem that roundabouts make our roadways safer. And considering the increased traffic volume from all of our new neighbors that have moved in, it makes perfect sense to make improvements that allow for safer and more efficient intersections.
Of course, this is only one roundabout in the entire Charleston metropolitan area. This means that there is still plenty of potential for injury-causing accidents. In fact, in 2013, there were 12,547 total traffic accidents in Charleston. Over five thousand people were injured, and a total of 43 people were killed. With all of the new residents with their cars on our already crowded (and dangerous) roadways, these statistics will only get worse.
If you or a loved one are injured or killed in a traffic accident in Charleston, you should consider hiring an experienced injury attorney. It is comforting to know that an experienced lawyer may be able to help get you all the money you need – and deserve. An experienced injury attorney knows the law. An experienced injury attorney also knows how to navigate the court room, the filing deadlines and other paperwork that go along with lawsuits, and how to negotiate with the insurance companies.
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George Sink, P.A. Injury lawyers has been protecting the rights of car wreck victims throughout South Carolina for more than 40 years. Our Charleston car accident attorneys understand the burdens victims and their loved ones face after wrecks, and we’re committed to fighting for the compensation they deserve while they focus on getting better, not on paperwork. Our team could help stop the debt collectors, negotiate with the insurance companies, and settle your case so you can still provide for your family – all while you get better and get back to living a normal life.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a wreck, our team is ready to review your case FREE of charge. We serve clients across the state from multiple office locations, and can come to you if you aren’t able to make it to us.
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