OLYMPIA, Wash. — Traffic engineers believe roundabout intersections improve safety and the flow of traffic, but maneuvering through them can be confusing.
“Most of the people who are on the road today learned how to drive before there were roundabouts,” said Olympic Driving School instructor Greg Sypnicki.
Sypnicki teaches his students to use their right turn signals before exiting a traffic circle, signaling to drivers about to enter it’s safe to do so.
"That makes sense," said Sypnicki, who contacted Rep. Beth Doglio, D-Olympia, about creating a law.
Doglio is sponsoring a bill that would require the use of turn signals when exiting roundabouts.
Sypnicki testified in favor of House Bill 1532 before the House Transportation Committee Wednesday afternoon.
No matter what happens with the legislation, roundabouts are here to stay.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, when compared to traditional intersections, roundabouts have fewer pedestrian crashes, injury and fatal collisions:
The bill targeting roundabouts isn't the only traffic-related legislation being discussed by lawmakers in Olympia.
There's a proposal to lower the blood-alcohol limit for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05.
Bills introduced in the state House and Senate would prohibit drivers from making a right turn at certain red lights. The proposal identifies those certain red lights as intersections within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, transit centers and hospitals.
Finally, the Senate Committee on Transportation will consider a proposal that would put speed safety camera systems near highway work zones.
Traffic fatalities are near historic highs after a surge of dangerous driving during the coronavirus pandemic.
After a record spike in 2021, the number of U.S. traffic deaths dipped slightly during the first nine months of 2022, but pedestrian and cyclist deaths continued to rise. More than 40,000 people are killed in road crashes a year.
According to a preliminary report from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 745 people were killed in crashes in 2022, the highest number since 1990. 2021 was also a deadly year on Washington roads with 540 crashes that resulted in the deaths of more than 600 people.