Intersections are a dangerous area for all drivers, but pose a significant risk for drivers over age 70. Elderly drivers are more likely to misjudge speed and distance than younger drivers, which can result in a head-on collision if the older driver is turning left.
There are many options for an older driver to make safer left turns. For instance, intersections with protected left-turn signals and diamond intersection designs control the flow of traffic without putting drivers at risk. In addition, some road designs, such as roundabouts, allow drivers to avoid turns entirely. Roundabouts may be the best choice for elderly drivers to avoid left-turn accidents, as these intersections offer:
- Low speeds. Traffic in a roundabout travels considerably slower than in an intersection. Drivers must yield to traffic before entering, reducing their roadway speed, and are typically limited to between 15 and 20 miles per hour in the traffic circle. When collisions do occur in roundabouts, the injuries are usually few and the damage is minor.
- One-way traffic. By forcing traffic to travel in the same direction, roundabouts eliminate the most deadly types of intersection accidents. As t-bone, left-turn, head-on, and right-angle collisions are impossible, roundabouts reduce intersection injury crashes by about 75 percent.
- Fewer trucks. Many larger vehicles will avoid areas with roundabouts if the traffic circle is narrow. As a roundabout is made to condense several lanes of traffic, large vehicles (such as semis) will take alternate routes, allowing smaller, slow-moving vehicles to navigate around the circle.
Unfortunately, although they are far safer than regular intersections, many older drivers are fearful of roundabouts. However, most drivers find that after they are used to them, the roundabout is far easier and less dangerous than busy, multi-lane intersections. To learn more about car crashes and the elderly, visit the related links on this page or order our free accident guide, Don't Wreck Your Injury Claim! 10 Rules of the Road to Win Your Accident Case in Kansas & Missouri.