Reduce gas consumption with European-style traffic regulation

I’m sure Denver has more stop signs and traffic lights than the entire UK. Think of how many gallons of gas are wasted by millions of idling cars waiting for the light to change when there is no crossing traffic. Same for over used stop signs.

Let’s adopt the European philosophy of traffic regulation – yield signs and rotaries (roundabouts). Rotaries are self-regulating, do not require electricity, maintenance, bulbs or switching electronics. We would save millions of barrels of oil with this simple change. Of course, American drivers would have to improve their driving skills and start paying attention. I know, that may be asking too much.

This would easier and faster than migrating to hybrid, bio-fuels or other automotive technologies. Faster payback too.


There is starting to be a trend of having round-abouts in new developments in Alberta cities. Actually, I think Edmonton has Canada’s largest roundabout. I think they are much better than traditional intersections, and are likely safer than four-way stops, since many people don’t know when they should go. It’s a great idea, but it’ll take time, because North American drivers are, by and large, a bunch of morons.

Rotaries and roundabouts are technically different, at least in the U.S., but I get your point.

A new rotary in Goffstown increased accidents 24%. There was an srticle in the paper on that a few months ago. Goffstown residents want it changed back to a “T”. Studies have begin to show that rotaries often have higher accident rates than perpendicular intersections with stop signs.

When teaching my kids to drive, one of the road situations they (and I) found most challenging by far was rotaries. They’re extremely dangerous.

I’d much rather have a stop sign where the drivers on at least one of the roads have to stop, look both ways, and then decide whether to go. IMHO it’s far preferable to a rotary where everyone has to guess what everyone else is going to do.

I’ve spent time in England where roundabouts are common. The big difference is the traffic and the speeds. Our roads are designed very differently from theirs, much faster. And our roads are typically much busier. Rotaries don’t work as well here.

Since round-abouts take up more space than a conventional crossing it would not be feasible to retrofit crossings…only when new roadways are built. There are some great rotaries in Boston!

Retrofits are common. Nashua (rt 130), Goffstown, and Nashua South Main St. are three just off the top of my head.

Boston’s are more like polygrams. Polygrams of insanity.

When gasoline and diesel reach $6-$7/gallon, consumption will be cut in half.

Next problem please…

when a very young driver got caught in a roundabout in Paris rush time. Finally just stopped and waited as the Parisans slowed to let me get out at the spoke I wanted. Boston [New England]roundabouts have since never been a challenge. I suspect lots of learning would have to go on, and the insurance companies would be interested in your route to work. If the price of gasoline continues up suppose will be less drivers on the rode. Less drivers certainly no need for even considering roundabouts.

Or something similar at least with the overall intent to MOVE traffic…not just… sit…and…wait.

Really? Du-oh!

Some of the neighborhoods around where I live (northern MD) have had their more dangerous intersections replaced with roundabouts, and I gotta say I think they’re great. I don’t get what’s so hard about them: pull up to the yield sign, look to your left for an opening, and just go when there is one. They’re a hell of a lot better than four-way stop intersections, where many of the people simply have no idea how to deal with them.

If you’re simply not used to them, I can see where some difficulty might happen. The real functionality of them rests in the fact that there’s really only one direction you can go inside of one (counter-clockwise) as opposed to three possible directions in a 4-way, and you only have to worry about the people on your left. I don’t see the problem.

Just get rid of the traffic controls and go back to the old way; the driver on the right has the right of way.

I have to disagree with you on this one, at least in part.

They (rpundabouts) are not unsafe by nature. They do present challenges to drivers who have not used them. Over the years I can remember when they were common in the US and learned to drive while we still had a few. In the meant time I have driven enough in Mexico and Ireland & England to keep my skills.

In Ohio they are now making a comeback for much the same reasons the OP pointed out. A couple went in a few miles from my home a few years ago. It took about a year before people were really comfortable with them. I even saw one older lady who ended up driving the wrong way early on. The good part was that the other drivers all did a good job of handling that situation. Over that time, they were keeping records on accidents. It turned out that there were few. Certainly no more than would have been expected for a stop sign controlled intersections. They are not putting in another one even closer to my home.

They handle more traffic and do so safely. But they are not for every intersection.

The fun thing about round-abouts (“traffic circles”) is the posted speed limit of only 15 mph, which most people only double, or triple. Great fun when there are a number of cars/trucks in, nearing, and attempting to leave the two-lane traffic circle at that speed.

I remember reading some statistics a while back regarding rotary accidents. They do increase for a while, then decrease after idiot drivers figure them out. The important point of the article was that rotary accidents are minor “fender benders” and result in few injuries and almost no fatalities. The most dangerous accidents are 1) head-on and 2) “t-bones” – virtually impossible with rotaries and pretty common with drivers running stop signs and red lights.


I’ve never been to Europe, but I’ve heard and read that the drivers there, especially in Italy, drive like maniacs to the extent that Boston and NYC cabbies look like amateurs. Almost like a giant bumper car course.

I stick to stop signs, thanks. Of course, many drivers ignore those anyway.

I’ve lived in France, and driven in Italy. While the Italians do seem to make 5 lanes of traffic on a 2 lane road, their cars are not usually dented or banged up. France is similar in that what appears to American eyes as chaos is really just following different rules and the cars don’t show signs of being banged up.

Interesting that you say accidents increased. Everything I’ve read says roundabouts decrease accidents and increase traffic flow. Perhaps there is some design problem with the one you cite in Goffstown (what state?).

They (rpundabouts) are not unsafe by nature.

Come to New England and make drive some of our rotaries. Try the Rt 2 rotary in Concord MA. It’s a NIGHTMARE. The problem is people don’t obey the law. I had to use that rotary for a few months for a consulting job I did in Concord. For the 3 months I worked there I saw at least 10 accidents on that rotary. Rotaries are fine for LIGHT traffic. The concord rotary sees well over 100k cars daily. They are NOT designed to handle that many cars.

In Chelmsford MA they took out the Rt-4 Rotary that goes over rt 3. A 90% decrease in traffic accidents. That was another nightmare spot.

A new rotary in Goffstown increased accidents 24%.

MB - Is this that new rotary on Goffstown Back Rd and the road that brings you back to 114 by the womans prison??? I saw that last year. I was amazed they added a rotary there.

Interesting that you say accidents increased. Everything I’ve read says roundabouts decrease accidents and increase traffic flow. Perhaps there is some design problem with the one you cite in Goffstown (what state?).

They work for LIGHT TRAFFIC ONLY. They are a nightmare if there’s a lot of traffic.

The most difficult roundabout is in Paris, France, around the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs Elisee. You really have to plan where you get off, since there are 5 parallel lanes during the rush hour. Roundabouts work very well when trafic is light and save a great deal of energy. They also require drivers who do more than turn on their signal when changing lanes! Driver education is a must. I understand to pass a driver’s test in Edmonton you have to be well versed in how to handle a roudabout or traffic circle.