HELENA, Mont. – Over the last two months since I began Help Me Ben, I’ve gotten all sorts of questions. But this next one even had me thinking, ‘yeah, why do they do that?’. Roundabouts, your eyes are not deceiving you. More and more of them are popping up all over Montana. But just a little bit ago, Michael Houchins asked me who is in charge of putting them in, and why do we need them.
So I got to work to get him, and you some help in understanding roundabouts.
Believe it or not, there is actually a guy. A roundabout expert guy for the state of Montana. His name is Gabe Priebe, and he says the answer as to why, is simple.
“Because they are really hard to beat when it comes to safety.” Priebe says. Priebe has been working with the Montana Department of Transportation for close to two decades, and is the traffic and safety engineer for the state.
And he has the stats to back that up his claim, using one particular roundabout that has long been up in the Capital City, at the intersection of Canyon Ferry Road and Lake Helena Drive.
“In the 10 years before, it had 2 fatal crashes, 15 injury crashes, and a host of other crashes.” Priebe says. “The 10 years after the installation of the roundabout, there are no fatal crashes, they are only two injury crashes, and an overall reduction on the number of crashes.”
National statistics show roundabouts reduce those fatal crashes by 90 percent. They also reduce serious injury crashes by 75 percent. But, they also come with a price tag, usually over one million dollars.
“We study the traffic patterns, we study the crashes, we look at the way things are going to grow, as far as future growth and development, and then we arrive at a conclusion.” Priebe says. “Sometimes it can be a signal, other times it can be a roundabout.”
For more information on roundabout history, theory, and the raw data that shows these traffic devices work, you can visit the Montana Department of Transportation website.
If you have a problem that is looking for a solution, reach out to me. I want to hear from you! Visit our website, and click on the “Help Me Ben” tab.