Roundabouts, traffic circles, diverging diamonds: How to navigate tricky traffic patterns

2 months ago
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Love them or hate them, if you’re driven through Brevard County, you’ve likely experienced a traffic circle or roundabout at some point.

While there’s usually a divide in people’s opinions on traffic circles, numbers show they help reduce traffic crashes. They are credited with an 80% reduction in serious injuries and fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Diverging diamonds are another hot traffic topic. Brevard County has two of these interchanges getting motorists onto Interstate 95. One is on Viera Blvd. and the other is just north of Micco Road.

Navigating these traffic patterns can be confusing. Here is some info to help make the process a little less intimidating.

Roundabouts include a center island motorists drive around, resulting in drivers slowing down, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

The roundabouts promote a continuous flow of traffic, which is not required to stop, only yield. This allows the intersection to accommodate more traffic in the same amount of time, leading to improved operational performance.

What is the difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle?

Traffic circles are much larger than roundabouts and often have stop signs or signals within the circular intersection. Roundabouts are smaller and vehicles have to yield before entering.

Roundabouts typically operate at relatively low speeds, 25 mph or less, while traffic circles allow speeds higher than 25 mph. Roundabouts also restrict pedestrians from entering the central island while some traffic circles allow pedestrians to cross to and from the central island.

How do you navigate a roundabout?
• Look left for oncoming vehicles as traffic moves counter-clockwise.
• Wait for a gap and then enter.
• Do not stop in the roundabout.
• Do not pass other vehicles.
• Use a turn signal to exit the roundabout to the right.

Where can you find traffic circles and roundabouts in Brevard?

Throughout Florida there are approximately 20 roundabouts on the state highway system, and over 300 roundabouts on local roads.

According to the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization this is where you can find roundabouts in Brevard:

There is a traffic circle in Cocoa Village at the intersection of Rosa L. Jones Drive and Brevard Ave. Traffic circles also can be found sprinkled throughout neighborhoods in the county.

What about diverging diamonds? How do they work?

A diverging diamond interchange, also known as DDI, combines the basic form of a diamond interchange with a pair of directional crossovers on the cross street. The crossover design eliminates a typical lefthand turn at a traffic light and simplifies the maneuver.

Motorists momentarily drive on the opposite side of the road in order to travel across an overpass. Once on the other side of the interchange, drivers resume the original travel pattern.

“The crossover intersections are what make DDIs different, and they are very intuitive for the driver. The crossovers gently transition — or diverge — traffic from the right side of the road to the left side of the road and then back again,” said the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Because traffic is on the lefthand side between the crossovers, all left turns occur without having to cross opposing traffic.”

What are the benefits of diverging diamonds?
• Diverging diamond interchanges cost less than an equivalent conventional diamond.
• They incorporate safe and convenient pedestrian walkways and crossings.
• There are less crashes due to reduced speeds and fewer conflicts points, where vehicles typically merge, diverge or cross.

Spitzer is a trending reporter. She can be reached at MSpitzer@floridatoday.com…Read more by , Florida Today

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