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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Transportation

Survey: Most Oregon, Washington drivers OK with roundabouts

A pair of cars wait to enter the roundabout after leaving the Spokane Tribe Casino on U.S Highway 2 on Jan. 26, 2018, in Airway Heights, Wash. According to a new poll of Oregon and Washington drivers by PEMCO Insurance, most drivers in the states feel confident navigating roundabouts. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
A pair of cars wait to enter the roundabout after leaving the Spokane Tribe Casino on U.S Highway 2 on Jan. 26, 2018, in Airway Heights, Wash. According to a new poll of Oregon and Washington drivers by PEMCO Insurance, most drivers in the states feel confident navigating roundabouts. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Andy Matarrese Columbian

Most Pacific Northwesterners feel perfectly confident navigating roundabouts, according to a new poll of Oregon and Washington drivers from PEMCO Insurance, it’s just the other guy who needs to learn to freaking drive, they say.

Four out of five drivers say they’re “extremely” or “very” confident when approaching a roundabout. At the same time, only about a quarter of drivers felt the same levels of confidence about other drivers’ roundabout ability.

Of the surveyed drivers, 39 percent were “somewhat confident” in other motorists, and 31 percent were “not too confident” or not confident at all.

“I think it’s always kind of funny and interesting to see that people feel very confident about their own skills and doubt the ability of other drivers,” said Derek King, a spokesman for PEMCO. “I think that sometimes there’s bit of overconfidence, perhaps.”

What’s promising to him, though, was that more than half of responding drivers supported roundabouts over traditional four-way stops.

Roundabouts do seem to make people better drivers, or at least reduce their mistakes.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts lead to a 90 percent reduction in fatalities at intersections, along with a 76 percent reduction in injuries and 35 percent reduction in all crashes.

Confidence levels aside, roundabouts are relatively uncommon on American streets compared with other industrialized countries. A 2016 look at roundabouts in America, by a technician at mapping software company Esri, found one roundabout per 1,118 intersections in the United States. That’s compared to one per every 313 intersections in Germany, one per every 127 in Great Britain, or one per every 45 in France.

Indeed, more than two-thirds of the PEMCO survey respondents said they sometimes or rarely drive on streets with roundabouts.

King noted the phenomenon of everyone thinking it’s really everyone else on the road who are bad drivers is a recurring one in their polling, but why that is he couldn’t say.

“That might be more for a psychiatrist or a psychologist,” he joked.

For those lacking confidence – which is surely none of you, per the survey – or in need of a refresher, the Washington State Department of Transportation offers a few tips:

    Yield to drivers in the roundabout.

    Stay in your lane; do not change lanes.

    Do not stop in the roundabout.

    Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles.

PEMCO commissioned the survey, conducted by Seattle’s FBK Research, which in June last year asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and other topics.

Surveyors talked to 1,200 people – 600 each in Oregon and Washington – and had an accuracy of give-or-take 4.1 at the 95 percent confidence level. That means if the survey were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data would not vary by more than that error range.

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