On September 18, 2018, Maine DOT published the following wording and roundabout design on their Facebook page, but unfortunately the layout is unsatisfactory:
“It’s National Roundabout Week! Roundabouts have proven to be far safer than traditional intersections, but some people are still unsure of how to navigate them…”
The problem is that, like most other states, Maine is apparently following the Federal Highways Administration [FHWA] ethos on roundabout construction but such guidelines deliberately ignore global best practices that have been developed over the fifty years in which the USA failed to build what are properly called “modern roundabouts.” Sadly, the result is roundabouts that can have multiple potential safety flaws, just like the one in this illustration, as posted by Maine DOT.
While instructing on an advanced driving course recently in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, I briefly found it funny when I saw this sign but after a few moments of humor I was more dismayed than amused. Read on and you’ll find out why.
Sixty-nine years ago, back in 1949, the United Nations drew up a ‘Protocol on Road Signs and Signals.’ Goals of the protocol included uniformity of all road signs, signals and surface markings around the world, to make it easier for foreign visitors to understand traffic signs wherever they happened to be driving. In the same context there has always been a push for sign makers to use images rather than text on road signs, so that it is even easier to understand the signs.
Just a few days ago, on June 11, 2018, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas announced a $62 million investment in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, here in our own home state of New York . This multi-agency initiative will include the Department of Health, DMV, Capital District Transportation Authority and local enforcement agencies. This is, of course, to be warmly welcomed, but let’s get straight to the point, the USA has a stunningly bad track record for pedestrian injuries and deaths, with almost exactly six thousand being killed nationwide, and a vastly greater number being injured, during the last statistical year alone.
Poor quality paint is dangerously and very frequently used for pavement markings and crosswalks in the USA, in place of more-expensive but vastly-safer thermoplastic materials which have a high-glass-bead content for excellent reflectivity at night and in bad weather.