Are roundabouts the safer option for drivers? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Are roundabouts the safer option for drivers?

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

You either love them or hate them, but traffic roundabouts appear to be here to stay in Beaufort County.

But, some of the traffic circles have been the scene of dozens of collisions.

The town of Hilton Head has reported 83 accidents on one roundabout, Sea Pines Circle, in the last four years.

"Quite frequently, they're not in the right lane. And instead of going in the middle, they'll go to the right, and cut people off that are trying to go straight. And I've seen a few accidents,” said Mark Horan, resident of Beaufort County.

There have been more than 150 wrecks on seven traffic circles on Hilton Head Island in the last four years. That’s just Hilton Head, there are several more roundabouts in the county.

"When it first was implemented, it was pretty scary. It was like the Indy 500 every day, and it seemed like there were several accidents every week,” said B.J. Frazier, Beaufort County resident, and publisher of the Hilton Head Sun.

Darrin Shoemaker, the Traffic and Transportation Engineer on Hilton Head Island, helped to design one of Hilton Head's most popular roundabouts in 2001, the one at Sea Pines Circle.

Fortunately, he said the addition of roundabouts has reduced the number of fatalities on local roads

"The collisions that we do have at our roundabout intersections are typically much less severe than the ones that may result in a typical cross-type intersection,” said Shoemaker.

Still, residents in Beaufort County said there's one thing they'd really like to see change.

"People need to slow down a little bit,” said Frazier.

"The key is slow down, take your time,” said Horan.

Beaufort County said there are several reasons they have added so many roundabouts, one of them is the fact that statistics show roundabouts have fewer fatal and serious injury crashes, as much as 75 percent fewer.

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