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Study finds decrease in traffic deaths at roundabouts

Whether motorists love or hate roundabouts at intersections, safety conscious California drivers will be glad they're in place. A report has found that fatal traffic accidents significantly decreased following the switch from traditional intersections.

The study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation of 144 roundabouts indicated an 86 percent decrease in deaths after they were installed. The study also found the number of minor fender benders increased, however. Most of the 104 single-land roundabouts and 40 multiple-lane roundabouts are in urban areas.

State DOT officials said the decrease in fatalities was due to the decrease in T-bone accidents. A T-bone accident occurs when one driver smashes into the side of another vehicle. Roundabouts eliminate the possibility of this happening. Since drivers usually enter a roundabout at a lower rate of speed, the impacts aren't as great should an accident occur.

Non-injury car accidents where minor property damage occurred were up 75 percent on roundabouts where the number of lanes varied, the study found. These types of accidents were up 200 percent on roundabouts with two lanes at each approach.

When two cars collide, even at low rates of speed, vehicle occupants can suffer injuries ranging from whiplash to concussions to broken bones. The victims might have to endure long periods of expensive medical care, during which they are unable to return to work. If it can be established that the collision was due to the negligence of another driver, a personal injury lawyer can often be of assistance in seeking compensation for these and other losses, either through a settlement with the at-fault motorist's insurer or through a lawsuit.

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