Yes, the dreaded Viera Roundabout – let’s talk about it. Although, I don’t know why it has become so reviled. Roundabouts make so much sense and are so safe, the local resistance to roundabouts just astounds me. I recently returned from a vacation in Arizona and they were everywhere! And, yes, there were two lane roundabouts as well. Yet, the drivers navigated them safely and patiently and traffic flowed efficiently. I didn’t have a single moment of stress or cursing my way around them. Same for The Villages in Central Florida – there are a ton of two-lane roundabouts there. So, if they can navigate them everywhere else, there is no reason why the awesome community of Viera can’t properly navigate roundabouts. Furthermore, they are not going anywhere and we are going to start seeing more and more of them. Here is a statement taken right from the FDOT’s website:
“The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is actively promoting the installation of modern roundabouts throughout the state highway system due to their proven safety and operational benefits. Currently, there are approximately 20 roundabouts operating on the state highway system and over 300 roundabouts on local roads throughout the State.”
Let’s discuss the most common error in driving the Viera roundabout. I see this mistake virtually every time I drive it and I have had people argue with me about their right to drive the circle this way. The mistake is taking the outside lane all the way around to the 3rd or 4th exit of the roundabout. This is the equivalent of making a left turn or a U-turn from the outside lane. This driving pattern causes most of the close calls and accidents in our roundabout. Traveling in the outside lane beyond the 2nd exit creates chaos to those who are making proper exits from the inside lane at the 2nd, 3rd or 4th exit. The errant outside-laner improperly crosses in front of the path of the car on the inside lane. Roundabouts are no different than traffic lights when it comes to which lane you should be in when exiting the roundabout. Would you ever, in a million years, be allowed to make a left turn from the outside lane at a signalized intersection? Of course not. That is why you cannot do it in a roundabout. If you start your journey in a roundabout from the outside lane, you MUST exit at the 1st or 2nd exit.
The next big mistake that I see a lot of drivers make in the Viera roundabout is changing lanes in the circle or changing lanes to exit the circle. I have been told by someone who admitted doing this that they always thought they had to exit in the outside lane. No, no, no. Just no. Never, ever change lanes in the roundabout. The lane you exit in needs to be the same lane in which you started.
So, why is it we struggle so much here in Viera? If I had to guess, I would say education is the key. This is why I include a section in my Viera Resident Orientation class and why I always keep a supply of FDOT Two-Lane Roundabout Brochures with me in case there is ever a question or a discussion about the Viera Roundabout. And, if anyone is interested in having some brochures for themselves, family members and their visitors to Viera, I am happy to send you some. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to send you as many as you need. Here is also a link to the brochure on our website: https://www.cvcaviera.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FDOT-2-Lane-Roundabout.pdf .
Unfortunately, accidents will happen. This is true on any roadway. However, statistics show that two-way stop sign intersections that are converted to roundabouts experience an 82% reduction in the number of fatal/injury crashes and conversion of a signalized intersection to a roundabout experiences a 78% reduction of the number of fatal/injury crashes. Basically, when everyone is traveling the same direction and at a low rate of speed (20mph), you practically eliminate head-on and side impacts – which are the most dangerous. So, if I ever have an accident, I hope it is going 20mph and in the same direction of the person who hit me. That way, I know it will only be vehicle damage and the most important treasures – me and my passengers – will be fine.
Then, there is always driving defensively as you travel through the roundabout. Because I have no idea what the other car will do or if they know how to drive a roundabout correctly, I try to make sure I am never directly adjacent to another car if possible, especially when driving in the inside lane. I stagger my position ahead or behind of the car next to me. Then, there is always the speed you go through the circle and yielding. If everyone is traveling 20mph and if everyone yields to the vehicles already in the roundabout, it is virtually impossible to get into an accident. If the rules are being followed, you really almost have to try to hit someone.
Finally, let’s not forget the pedestrians and the golf carts. Cars must yield to any pedestrians, golf carts and bikes that are crossing the lanes of the circle. Seemingly unbeknownst to many drivers in the circle, there are actually designated crossings at the roundabout and vehicles must yield (see picture above). Please make sure you are aware of others navigating the intersection before you enter. Yielding (to cars already in the roundabout and to pedestrians/golf carts/bicycles before entering) is required for all vehicles.
So, until next time, please remember … “We [Americans] have grown used to (and feel comfortable with) binary, on-off traffic control. We suspect such signals are more efficient than the “fuzzy logic” that seems to govern roundabouts. Roundabouts require drivers to make their own decisions and assess others’ actions, rather than relying on third-party signals.” (Tom Vanderbilt)
Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.