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The great British roundabout

The Magic Roundabout Swindon

Americans don't really get roundabouts. They mainly have intersections instead - huge junctions where you have to stop at the lights, instead of judge the gaps yourself.

Safer, you'd think. Less chance of us screwing it up and getting jammed or worse.

Why roundabouts are feats of engineering genius

Roundabouts are meticulously designed to keep traffic moving. Just like with variable speed limits on motorways, slowing traffic down so it can maintain steady movement is what prevents jams.

They're more efficient than junctions, they're safer than junctions and they often have pretty flowers in the centre of them.

5 great things about roundabouts:

  1. They smooth out traffic flow, getting everyone to their destination quicker
  2. They break up our journeys, keeping us alert
  3. They reduce the chance of head-on collisions, which greatly decreases serious injuries
  4. Traffic is usually slow across a roundabout, which also reduces bad crashes
  5. The sense of accomplishment when you do great early observation and sail through like a pro

Proof human brains > computer brains

Grove Hill Junction

Recently, the UK's most ridiculous controlled junction broke down. Grovehill junction's 42 separate sets of traffic lights, built to replace a roundabout and nicknamed "the red light district" - all out. Was there chaos?

Nope. Everyone just used their brainboxes. Good old-fashioned observation and judgement. Isn't that beautiful?

“The traffic has been flowing very well since the lights went out, it’s flowing like it used to do when it was just a roundabout.”

Anita Tomlinson

Feeling warm with pride at our traffic systems?
Go see what Americans think of them...

Honor Clement-Hayes

By Honor Clement-Hayes

Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .