Why are there so few roundabouts in America?

Image by János Bencs from Pixabay

Question from Jonas Barends

The UK has a passion for roundabouts; we even have our own Roundabout Appreciation Society. Other nations, including Australia and France, have even more of the circular traffic guides. But this love has yet to be exported to our American cousins.

The US does have roundabouts- one per 1,118 intersections, compared to one per 127 in the UK and one per 45 in France- but many regulators and officials still heavily favour the traffic light intersection. Although there is evidence that roundabouts are the safer option, many cite an entrenched culture that dislikes changes to the roadway, and the psychological benefit of having a traffic light as a guide as reasons for the US’s reluctance to join the roundabout revolution.

Answered by James Horton for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 116.

To feature in our Brain Dump section, send us your questions to [email protected] or message us on Facebook or Twitter

For more science and technology articles, pick up the latest copy of How It Works from all good retailers or from our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!