Public might need help with use of roundabouts

We believe the Minnesota Department of Transportation when it says a study it conducted shows that roundabouts installed statewide have reduced the number of injuries and fatalities due to car crashes. But we likewise believe Blue Earth Police Chief Tom Fletcher, who says the number of overall crashes related to roundabouts in Blue Earth have risen. Fletcher says his experience shows that drivers are taking roundabouts too fast, causing more crashes than he is used to seeing at stoplights. His solution, of course: Drivers need to be aware and slow down.

We believe the state and local jurisdictions also could do more to educate drivers, perhaps through targeted advertising campaigns. Roundabouts are, well, a little weird, especially for those approaching them for the first time, and for those still getting used to them. Many people, especially older drivers, are more familiar with stoplights, something they have been using for decade upon decade. While it would be easy to be critical and say people simply need to adapt, this is not adequate.

We believe that roundabouts are the wave of the future, regardless of what the public and police might prefer, including the retention of stoplights. If the state’s study shows good results for roundabouts and that they save money, that’s great. But if local leaders see problems, then those issues must be addressed.