The DOT in our area has been bent on putting in traffic circles to keep traffic flowing. We now have several in our town and several more and being put in. Increasingly, if you travel in the mid-west, you encounter the traffic circle.
My first experience with these was when I moved to Buffalo, New York as a young adult. Buffalo had several circles, even back in the mid-80’s. It was with trepidation and dread when I entered a round about, as they are also called, and when I exited them as well. But, living downtown, near Millard Fillmore Hospital and Gates Circle as well as Delaware Park, I became accustomed to them. I distinctly remember the circle in the suburb of East Aurora giving me more angst than the larger one at Gates Circle. Anyway, I had mixed feelings when the traffic circles started popping up here in Wisconsin. ,
The reason? People really do not practice safe yielding and merging skills while driving. This is something I’ve noticed for years when travelling the highways, both locally and afar. Personally, I think this is part of the “me first” mentality and also part of the “big vehicle” mentality.
Let me explain. The driver with me first mentality does not yield the traffic already on the highway. They merge without regard to 1) looking for an appropriate space to fit, 2) adjusting their speed, 3) putting on their blinker, and 4) most importantly, adjusting their speed. They ASSUME that the drivers already on the highway will move over to let them on. This, of course, would be helpful and considerate to those merging, but let’s be honest – it’s not always possible! Furthermore, the driver traveling on the highway already has the right-of-way.
The driver entering the highway or merging from a ramp needs to adjust and yield to the traffic already on the main road. The same goes for traffic circles. This is not a situation where one should be thinking (or depending on) other driver’s yielding to you! Of course, most drivers do yield to a “me first mentality” to avoid accidents. It does not make it right, but might contribute to the practice continuing.
The big vehicle mentality refers to those driving large SUV’s, trucks, and tractor trailers who think that other drivers must yield to them to let them in when merging based on their size. Again, this probably continues and, in my opinion, has gotten worse, because smaller vehicles and more cautious drivers allow it to happen. Again, who wants to be the cause of an accident for failure to yield? And, again, moving over for these vehicles is not always possible!
What I am suggesting is that both drivers consider other drivers when merging and yielding. Too often we see folks barreling down an entrance ramp with no where to go or failing to adjust to traffic in progress on the highway. Lately, I find myself thinking about rights of way, failure to merge, or failure to yield when driving. The traffic circles have exacerbated this practice, in my opinion.
To help review, I found a short piece of advice from a sheriff on yielding, merging, and right of way. Be honest with yourself! Are you a me-first driver or a big vehicle driver who assumes other drivers will just have to avoid you? I hope not! But, if you are, I ask you to change your ways and drive more considerately!
Additional references: Click on Caption.