Long-term trends in public opinion following construction of roundabouts

Retting, Richard A. / Kyrychenko, Sergey Y. / McCartt, Anne T.
Transportation Research Record

Roundabouts can provide substantial safety and traffic flow benefits compared with traffic signals and stop signs and as a result are increasingly used in place of traditional intersections. However, construction of roundabouts can be hampered by the negative perceptions held by some drivers. Prior research has found that public support increases soon after roundabouts are built and drivers become familiar with them. The purpose of the current study was to measure longer-term changes in public opinion in six communities where stop signs or traffic signals were replaced with roundabouts. Telephone surveys were conducted approximately 6 weeks before, 6 weeks after, and 1 to 5 years after construction of the roundabouts. The proportion of drivers in favor of roundabouts ranged from 22% to 44% before construction compared with 48% to 67% soon after roundabouts were built and 57% to 87% after roundabouts were in place for at least 1 year. The majority of drivers of all ages favored roundabouts after they were in place for 1 year or more, although support was higher among younger drivers (ages 18 to 34) and lower among older drivers (65 and older). There were small but nonsignificant differences between the opinions of male and female drivers. Drivers who said the roundabouts improved safety or traffic flow, or both, had more favorable opinions of roundabouts 1 to 5 years after construction. Results indicate that public support continued to increase with time, presumably because drivers became more familiar and comfortable with this form of traffic control.