Charleston, SC Roundabout Accident Attorneys
Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Law Firm Serving Clients in and Around Charleston
Intersections are one of the most common locations for traffic accidents. According to the United States Department of Transportation, more than half of all car accidents resulting in injury or death occur at or near intersections.
To decrease the number of accidents, cities across South Carolina, including Charleston, have replaced traditional intersections with roundabouts. Our Charleston car accident attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm represent individuals and their family members in personal injury lawsuits stemming from Charleston roundabout accidents.
Although studies show that roundabouts are a safer alternative, many drivers are unfamiliar with how to navigate a roundabout safely. Serious accidents involving pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other motorists can happen if a driver makes a cognitive mistake, has vision impairment, or is under the influence.
What Are Roundabouts?
Most intersections involve roads that cross at a 90-degree angle. As motorists approach the intersection, they must follow the traffic signal or stop sign, if there is one, or rely on traditional rules of who has the right-of-way.
According to the NCHRP Report 672, roundabouts are categorized into three types:
1. Mini Roundabouts (15 to 20 mph)
2. Single-Lane Roundabouts (20 to 25 mph)
3. Multi-Lane Roundabouts (25 to 30 mph)
A roundabout is quite different in that the “box” of the intersection is removed and replaced with a circular-shaped road. Drivers must enter the roundabout safely, yield to pedestrians and other drivers, and then travel until they reach their desired pathway. Some, but not all roundabouts, have traffic lights controlling traffic inflow. Those who do not have traffic signals require motorists to yield to those already in the roundabout before entering.
Are Roundabouts Safer than Traditional Intersections?
According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections because they can reduce car crashes by 35 percent. Roundabouts are effective at decreasing the number of serious car accidents because they influence drivers to drive more slowly and carefully. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports that roundabouts decrease the rate of injury accidents by as much as 80 percent. According to an analysis of 12 roundabouts in South Carolina, fatal accidents were reduced by between 79 percent and 100 percent.
However, a recent study found that the effectiveness of roundabouts at reducing accident rates increases over time. When a roundabout is first installed, drivers are unfamiliar with the new traffic pattern and may make mistakes when navigating the roundabout.
When it comes to pedestrian safety, however, the results are mixed. For example, a 2012 study found that drivers exiting a roundabout were less likely to yield to pedestrians, increasing the risk of a pedestrian accident.
How to Safely Navigate a Roundabout
Traffic circles have been a standard fixture on roads throughout the world for decades; however, only recently have they become popular in the United States. A roundabout was newly installed in Monck’s Corner at Ryle Road and Sangaree Parkway. Regardless, most South Carolina drivers are unfamiliar with safely navigating a roundabout.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation encourages drivers to follow these steps:
- Slow down when approaching a roundabout.
- Find the correct lane as you approach the roundabout.
- As you enter the roundabout, double-check to ensure the area is clear of pedestrians.
- Yield to other drivers inside the roundabout. If a roundabout has multiple lanes, drivers entering the roundabout must yield to motorists in both lanes.
- Do not change lanes or pass other vehicles while inside a roundabout.
- Do not stop your vehicle while driving in a roundabout.
- Whenever possible, avoid driving next to large trucks in a roundabout.
- Use your turn signal when exiting a roundabout.
- If an emergency vehicle enters a roundabout, exit immediately and pull to the right.
What Causes Roundabout Accidents in Charleston?
When a roundabout is first installed, traffic accidents may increase due to drivers unfamiliar with the traffic feature. Some drivers are better at making necessary adjustments to their driving behaviors while others continue to drive unsafely and, in some cases, recklessly.
The following are common causes of South Carolina roundabout accidents:
Approaching Too Fast – One of the most significant benefits of roundabouts is that drivers enter roundabouts at a much slower speed. If an accident does occur at a lower speed, it usually does not involve a direct impact. If a driver approaches a roundabout too fast, they are not only more likely to cause an accident, but the consequences of that accident are often much more severe.
Using the Wrong Lane – In multi-lane roundabouts, drivers must enter the traffic feature through the correct lane. If a driver chooses to switch lanes while navigating through the roundabout, a dangerous accident could happen. Motorists who plan to exit the roundabout immediately should enter through the right lane.
Stopping Inside the Roundabout – Drivers should never stop inside a roundabout except in cases of an emergency. Nervous drivers who are unfamiliar with driving through roundabouts may be tempted to make a wrong lane change or stop their vehicles. This is incredibly dangerous, as most roundabouts call for continuous traffic flow.
Failure to Yield to Pedestrians and Bicyclists – As drivers enter a roundabout, they may lose focus on their own driving abilities and look at other vehicles around them. This poses an elevated risk to pedestrians and cyclists because they can be struck by cars making an unprotected right turn or left turn.
Changing Lanes in a Roundabout – Roundabouts require drivers to change lanes and allow motorists to enter or exit through another pathway. Drivers who are familiar with roundabout traffic patterns do not expect other motorists to change lanes inside the roundabout, and doing so can confuse them, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Trucks in Roundabouts – Navigating the roads around semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles requires particular care. Trucks can block a motorist’s view, and their large turning radius requires that they be provided extra space to navigate a roundabout safely. Despite the temptation to pass a slow-moving truck, doing so is extremely dangerous.
Emergency Vehicles – All drivers know their obligations when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind. However, drivers often get confused and pull over immediately while driving inside a roundabout. This creates a hazard for the emergency vehicle driver and others navigating the roundabout. When an emergency vehicle enters with its lights or sirens on, the correct thing is to exit the roundabout at the next opportunity and then pull off to the side of the road.
Other factors that can cause serious accidents in a roundabout are the design of a vehicle, right-of-way rules, landscaping, and illumination. If serious injuries or a wrongful death comes out of a serious roundabout accident, it is crucial to document through pictures, medical records, and to hire an experienced Charleston attorney. After evaluating the details of a case, an attorney can determine what types of damages can be compensated.
Damages in A Charleston Roundabout Accident
Those injured in a Charleston roundabout accident can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver responsible for the collision. If successful, an injured motorist can recover economic and non-economic damages related to the accident.
Economic damages include those out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due to the accident. They also include any income you would have made but could not because of your injuries. Types of economic damages following a roundabout car accident include:
- Past Medical Expenses,
- Future Medical Costs,
- Lost Wages; and
- Property Damage.
In addition, accident victims can recover for their non-economic damages. Non-economic damages compensate accident victims for their injuries’ emotional and psychological impact on their lives. Non-economic damages from roundabout accidents may include:
- Emotional Anguish,
- Inability to Complete Daily Tasks,
- Loss of Companionship,
- Loss of Enjoyment in Life,
- Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement,
- Physical or Mental Disability; and
- Pain and Suffering.
At the Steinberg Law Firm, our dedicated Charleston car accident lawyers have more than 95 years of experience helping accident victims and their families pursue fair compensation for what they have been through. We focus on each client’s unique needs, ensuring we address their concerns throughout the process. Through this process, we can identify the full extent of the damages you suffered, enabling you to decide on any settlement offer extended by an insurance company. And, because we are seasoned litigators in addition to negotiators, you will never feel forced into accepting a settlement offer you do not think properly compensates you.
Reach Out to the Steinberg Law Firm to Discuss Your Charleston Roundabout Accident Claim
If you or a loved one recently suffered severe injuries in a Charleston roundabout accident, the Steinberg Law Firm can help. We offer all prospective clients a free consultation, during which we will answer your questions in clear, understandable terms so you can make the best decision for your family’s needs.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, contact the Steinberg Law Firm at (843) 720-2800. You can also connect with our Charleston car accident lawyers by completing our online contact form.
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