Duluth drivers take notice:  It's National Roundabout Week - a reason to celebrate an increasingly common part of our Northland roadways.  And even as it seems like drivers in our area grumble at them (and, have trouble navigating them), they are doing the job they were designed to do:  improve traffic flow and provide increased safety measures.

Perhaps the reason roundabouts get a bad rep in this part of the country is that they're a new feature relatively speaking.  While they've been a common feature in other parts of the country for a long time, our state is new to the process.  According to details shared by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in connection to the National Roundabout Week recognition, the first roundabout was installed in Minnesota in 1995.  And while that is 27 years ago, that's pretty recent when it comes to roadway design.

And the data backs up the fact that they're doing their jobs.  MNDOT shares that since their introduction to our state, Minnesota has "seen an 86% reduction in life-changing fatal and serious injury crashes".  At the same time, roundabouts have instigated a "42% reduction in all injuries".

Here are a few more roundabout safety statistics provided by the MNDOT website:

  • 83% reduction in serious injury crash rates
  • 69% reduction in right angle crash rates
  • 83% reduction in left turning crash rates
  • 61% reduction in injury crash rates

Perhaps the reason many people claim to dislike roundabouts is that they're unfamiliar with how to approach and travel through one. The roundabout design is all about controlling traffic flow and speed through intersections.  Drivers should slow down as they approach the roundabout and prepare to yield at the entry.  Traffic flow runs from left to right, so you need to yield to any vehicles that are already traveling inside of the roundabout from the left.  If there are vehicles inside, you yield to them and wait your turn; if there are no vehicles approaching from the left, you can safely enter the roundabout.  Once inside, you have the right away as you travel around to your exit.


Drivers are reminded to still use their turn signals while entering a roundabout to alert drivers to their actions. However, Minnesota State Law states that a "person whose vehicle is exiting a roundabout is exempt from this law". Therefore, "a signal is not required once in a roundabout".

There are more than 400 roundabouts located throughout the state of Minnesota.

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