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Traffic Roundabouts Are Better for the Environment—Here's Why

Modern traffic roundabouts are safer and result in fewer emissions when compared to traditional intersections. Here's what you need to know.

traffic roundabouts environment sustainability
Written by
Calin Van Paris
In terms of your daily environmental footprint, the vehicle you drive is a contributor. A typical passenger vehicle emits roughly
4.6 metric tons of CO₂ per year
, with the average passenger vehicle emitting about 0.9 pounds of CO₂ per mile.
Public transportation offers a worthy alternative, as do grassroots solutions like walking, biking, or even
working from home
. But for the times when hitting the road is a necessity, it seems that
modern roundabouts
—a mode of traffic infrastructure ubiquitous in the UK, and quickly gaining popularity in the U.S.—could help us cut down on our collective emissions. They're safer, too.

What Is a Traffic Roundabout?

traffic roundabout sustainability
A roundabout is a
circular intersection
with a series of curved entrances that trades stoplights for yield signs. The yield format requires cars to slow down, decreasing accident frequency and severity. In fact, according to the
Federal Highway Administration
, roundabout locations result in a 35% reduction in total crashes.
The U.S.'s slow rollout of roundabouts—which began in the '90s—has seen fewer accidents
in each area of implementation
. And, in recent years, a recognition of the climate benefits of the modern roundabout makes an even stronger shift toward the ilk of intersection a national no-brainer.

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How Do Traffic Roundabouts Benefit the Environment?

traffic roundabouts sustainability environment
Roundabouts are all about the yield. Sans stoplights, cars can skip the idling,
resulting in fewer carbon emissions
overall. No stoplights also means a reduced energy footprint, as roundabouts and yield signs require no electricity to function.
noted by
, research related to the environmental influence of roundabouts in Carmel, Indiana, estimated an annual savings of 24,000 gallons of gas, a decrease in nitrogen oxide, and a decrease in superfluous land development.
So, the next time you encounter a traffic roundabout, pay extra attention—not only to your fellow drivers, but to the eco intersections of a more sustainable future.