Road safety: Circling the globe

Wheels within wheels

FIVE new roundabouts are dismaying residents of Tennant Creek, an Australian town. “Too big, too high, and no consultation,” complains Darrin Whatley, a businessman, who says several motorists have already collided with them. He accuses the council of installing them “for their own sake”. They “look like albino teddy bears’ backsides”, thunders the local newspaper.For a century Britain’s many roundabouts have flummoxed foreign drivers. These days they are as likely to be found overseas. Australia boasts 8,000 of them; France has 30,000. Nevada built America’s first in 1990; today there are 3,000, and every state has one. Israel and Hong Kong are keen, as is Jordan. Amman, the country’s capital, has so many they are numbered and residents give addresses by reference to the nearest.Roundabouts are not as cheap as they look. Some cost over $2m to build. But they are less expensive to run than traffic lights, which can cost $100,000 a year to power and maintain. They cut congestion because they do not require drivers to stop completely—that makes them greener, too. Their biggest benefit is safety. American…

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