Northwest NEWS

May 13, 2002

Editorial

Controlling traffic with a roundabout is the best choice hands down!

A recent opinion I read in the Valley View seemed to use a lot of scare tactics and misinformation to win your readers over to their "side." The choice of traffic control devices to be considered should be based on safety, efficiency and the ability to be constructed at a reasonable cost, not on the fear of something new. The facts show roundabouts to be a much safer choice than a traffic light system. They move higher traffic volumes faster. The roundabout is very easy to maneuver. Any competent driver will have no problem adapting to their use.
   As for the incompetent drivers, they will continue to cause problems in any kind of traffic situation. The roundabout will make it less likely that someone is killed or maimed by their mistakes.
   The writer of the aforementioned opinion also talked about emergency vehicles being stuck in stopped roundabout traffic. The answer to that problem is easy. The driver of the emergency vehicle puts the siren on, turns the steering wheel and maneuvers around the traffic just like they do every day in intersections of all kinds all around this country. There is no reason to think the roundabout would make it more difficult.
   By the way, if used properly the roundabout traffic should rarely be stopped. On the other hand, a traffic light system stops and backs up traffic by design.
   The writer also seemed to suggest the traffic light option would be cheaper, but that opinion is not supported by the DOT's analysis (I believe the roundabout actually costs a little bit less to constuct) unless the writer feels a flashing red light on a stick would be adequate traffic control.
   The experiences I have had with government tell me if they install a temporary light system without the neccessary road modifications, it would be 10 years before they came back to do it right and we would would be stuck with a situation that eliminated very few problems and created a whole bunch more.
   I urge the people of this community to look at the real picture and not be taken in by fear or fear tactics.
   The studies and statistics show the roundabout to be an internationally and nationally proven system that lowers death and injury rates significantly, moves traffic faster and smoother, and is cheaper to operate and maintain.
   It never fails during power outages and you won't find yourself sitting waiting for the light to change in the middle of the night or the rest of the time (about 80 percent) that traffic volumes are low. As far as those big trucks are concerned, it won't hurt them to slow down a bit and maybe a few will be discouraged from using our valley as a freeway.
   I love my family and would like to see changes in our community that consider their and your family's safety as the most important issue. We live in a society whose pace is getting faster every day. Many people who drive in this fast paced world have realized that they can get there faster using smooth driving techniques than they can by erratic driving and pushing the speed limits.
   The roundabout is a traffic device that promotes cooperation and consideration by design, thus making it a smoother, quicker and safer experience.
   I am an average taxpayer who is in no way connected to the DOT or any other part of government. My comments are based on my concern for a safe and happy life for myself and others and my opinions are based on a logical and pragmatic thought process.
   Jeff Scholl , Duvall