City says roundabouts offer safer alternative to four way intersections

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COLUMBIA - Roundabouts offer a safer alternative, with fewer accidents than a traditional four way intersection, according to Columbia city traffic engineers.

The Federal Highway Patrol estimates 2.5 million intersection accidents happen every year in the nation. 

Richard Stone, the engineering manager for Columbia Public Works, said accidents happen at traditional four way intersections more often because there are more conflict points.

"Anytime where basically either a vehicle or pedestrian will cross the path of another vehicle or pedestrian, that's a potential location where a collision is going to occur," Stone said.

Roundabouts have fewer conflict points than the standard "t-type", "cross-type" intersections, he said.

"This reduces the number of accidents because people are usually going at a slower speed and it provides a cushion for error," Stone said.

He said designing intersections is based on an engineering formula consisting of budget, traffic patterns and what will be needed in the future.

"Volume is an important issue," Stone said. "Typically, if there is an issue with collisions, it's handled separately, but safety is a problem we address greatly."

Stone said, if a particular intersection in Columbia is the site of numerous collisions, Stone and his team looks at the intersection's engineering formula again. 

These intersections in Columbia see the most accidents, according to Curtis Perkins, a Columbia police sergeant:

  1. Stadium and Worley
  2. Rangeline at I-70
  3. Bernadette and Stadium
  4. U.S. 63 and I-70 connector

These are the five busiest intersections in Columbia, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation:

  1. Stadium and Providence
  2. Providence and Nifong
  3. Route PP (Clark) and U.S. 63
  4. Stadium and Broadway
  5. Stadium and Bernadette

Leah Livingtston, who lives in Columbia, has been in accidents at intersections. However, she thinks the intersections are not to blame for the accidents.

"A lot of the problem may just be distracted driving and not the engineering there," Livingston said.

She said she likes roundabouts because she thinks the traffic flows better and quicker.

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