Safely Getting Through Utica’s Roundabout

June 28, 2016

utica roundabout

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Is there a funnier scene than the one in Chevy Chase’s classic movie, European Vacation, where he and his family are stuck in a London roundabout and can’t get out? For the eightieth time around while his family is passed out from going in circles all day, he points, “Look kids, it’s Big Ben, Parliament.”

And do you remember the controversy surrounding the roundabout at Oneida Square a few years ago? Uticans were up in arms about it and letters to the OD expressed their displeasure.

But the Mayor at the time, David Roefaro stuck to his guns and got the roundabout built. Well, it turned out not to be a bad thing at all. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), roundabouts promote safe and efficient traffic flow.

  • They’re a safer alternative to traffic lights and stop signs. That tight circle means drivers must slow down and right angle, left turn, and head-on collisions are pretty much avoided.
  • Believe it or not, roundabouts are better for the environment. There’s less idling with the improved traffic flow, which reduces emissions and fuel consumption.
  • Lastly, the IIHS says that it’s safer for pedestrians. So the many people walking through Oneida Square only cross one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distance is short and the cars are going much slower than thru traditional intersections.

How To Drive Through a Roundabout

We checked out the NYS DMV for advice on safely getting through a roundabout and here’s what we found:

  • When you’re near the roundabout, look for the street sign you want to get off at so you know what exit to take in advance.
  • Always yield to the traffic to your left. And always yield to pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s especially true with the Oneida Square roundabout. There usually are a few people walking there.
  • You may have a stop sign or yield sign control your point of entry. When you get space and time, you may enter the roundabout. The key thing to remember is, after you enter the roundabout, the other traffic must yield for you. In other words, don’t stop once you’re in the roundabout. If you are in a larger roundabout (such as Carrier Circle off the Thruway in Syracuse), be careful about moving from the inside path to the outside path. Signal your intentions well ahead of the exit you want to take. Be sure to check around to see that no vehicle is in that lane and expect vehicles will be in your blind spots…so be careful. (See Chevy Chase above!)

We’ve noticed a certain rhythm to entering and exiting a roundabout. If you’re in the flow, you do notice how much more convenient it is to negotiate the circle than it is stopping for a traffic light. Just be alert and you’ll get thru safely.

We don’t think you’ll get stuck in the Oneida Square roundabout, but if you do, you’ll be pointing out, “Look kids, it’s Plymouth Bethesda Church, Dandee Donuts.”

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.