Navigating Missouri’s Roundabouts: Safety Tips

In the last decade, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) has favored the installation of roundabouts in the state. This strategy aims to reduce accidents, improve traffic flow, and simplify driving for Missouri motorists.

As of 2022, MODOT has implemented about 356 roundabouts across the state. However, some drivers may be unsure how to navigate them, including how to enter and exit safely.

Below, we share why you might be noticing more roundabouts in your city, along with some tips to help you navigate them more safely.

What Is a Roundabout?

A roundabout is a circular intersection designed to direct traffic in a one-way loop around a central island, minimizing the stops and delays commonly experienced at traditional intersections with traffic signals. This design reduces the number of interaction points where vehicles can collide—from 20-30 in standard intersections to just 8 in roundabouts.

Studies show a 35% to 47% reduction in all crashes after installing a roundabout and an 80% reduction in crash-related injuries. One study also showed a 75% reduction in pedestrian accidents after converting conventional intersections to roundabouts.

Another benefit is that the uninterrupted traffic movement in roundabouts reduces the need for stopping and starting, leading to decreased fuel consumption and lower emissions. Roundabouts present a simpler, safer, and greener alternative to traditional intersections.

How to Navigate a Roundabout Safely

While roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections, they may seem daunting for those who haven’t navigated one before. Below is an explanation of the rules for right of way when moving through a roundabout, covering everything from entering to safely exiting:

ActionDriving Maneuvers
Recognizing the RoundaboutWhen you are nearing a roundabout, you’ll see signs signaling its upcoming presence. In Missouri, this is a yellow diamond-shaped sign featuring arrows that illustrate a circular pattern.

Roundabouts are easily identifiable by their circular shape, central island, and multiple exit points.
Entering (Right of Way and Yielding)As you approach the roundabout, slow down. Give the right of way to drivers already circulating within the roundabout.  

Look for a safe opening in the traffic; this means waiting for a gap large enough that you can merge without causing others to slow down or stop. The goal is to enter seamlessly into the flow of traffic.
Moving Counter-ClockwiseOnce you’ve entered the roundabout, move to the right of the central island, following the road counter-clockwise. Maintain your lane and speed, adjusting to match the flow of traffic.  

Be mindful of the lanes in a multi-lane roundabout; some may be designated for turning, while others are for continuing around the roundabout.
ExitingAs you get close to your exit, signal right to alert other drivers that you plan to leave the roundabout. Watch for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the exit as you leave.  

Exit carefully and maintain a slow speed as you merge onto the new road.

Additional Tips for Roundabouts

Mastering roundabout navigation comes down to understanding essential rules and maintaining proper driving practices. Keep these tips in mind to help you avoid accidents when you’re driving through a roundabout:

  • Watch for Pedestrians and Cyclists: Always check for pedestrians crossing at exits and entrances, and for cyclists within the roundabout. This is especially crucial in multi-lane roundabouts and when exiting, where research shows drivers are less likely to notice and yield to pedestrians.
  • Choose the Correct Lane Early: If it’s a multi-lane roundabout, select your lane based on your exit before entering. This reduces lane changing inside the roundabout, which could confuse other drivers and increase the risk of a crash.
  • Avoid Stopping in the Roundabout: Keep moving to prevent traffic buildup. Only stop if absolutely necessary to avoid accidents.
  • Do Not Overtake Within the Roundabout: The layout and lane structure of roundabouts make passing other vehicles risky. If you miss your exit, simply loop around another time and take your exit at the next chance, making sure to stay in the correct lane.

Let Us Help After a Collision

Roundabouts reduce accidents in Missouri, but driver negligence can still lead to collisions inside a roundabout or anywhere on the road.  If you’re hurt in a crash, an attorney can help you protect your interests and get financial compensation.

Our team of seasoned Missouri car accident lawyers at Cofman Townsley has a track record of securing over $1 billion for our clients. With 50 years of experience, we’re committed to helping you win a fair settlement.

Get in touch with us for a free case review. We’ll look over the details of your accident and work together to develop a legal strategy aimed at getting you the maximum compensation possible.