The estimates released this week from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are sobering: traffic fatalities in the U.S. last year reached their highest level since 2005.

Among the cities bucking that grisly trend is Carmel, Indiana, and the city’s seven-term Mayor, Jim Brainard, says the answer can be found in the more than 140 roundabouts the city has installed, replacing all but a few of the city’s traffic lights and four-way stop signs.

Mayor Brainard, says a look at the numbers of both fatalities and injury-related accidents in Carmel vs. other Indiana cities (see charts below my signature) reveal an unmistakable correlation between roundabouts and safety.  (This is especially reinforced in the personal injury chart, since the three cities with the best records after Carmel have more roundabouts than any cities other than Carmel).

Of course there are manifold benefits to roundabouts beyond safety – fuel and electricity savings, as highlighted last fall in front-page New York Times story , traffic flow, attractive landscaping and other cosmetic features, etc. – but safety is probably the biggest, all the more so as traffic deaths are rising again throughout the nation.

Mayor Brainard said the two traffic deaths in Carmel last year including an 85-year-old man who stepped in front of a truck in one of the few remaining traffic light intersections in the city, and another who crashed at 6:30 in the morning at a speed of 110 mph (in a 30 mph zone).  That was in a roundabout but had he been at a traffic light he could well have taken others with him.

Five Year Average Trend of Vehicle Fatalities for Indiana Cities (based on 100K population) 3/8/2022
Year Carmel Fishers Westfield Greenwood Noblesville Anderson Kokomo Indianapolis Bloomington Ft. Wayne South Bend Mishawaka Evansville Columbus Valparaiso
2004 3.135 2.751 10.207 7.649 9.895 13.322 14.633 8.348 6.549 5.640 14.247 10.410 9.611 9.193 16.010
2005 3.211 4.850 13.404 10.420 10.775 16.512 16.377 9.456 8.547 6.933 14.901 11.628 10.511 8.684 22.130
2006 2.835 5.676 13.179 9.642 11.874 15.253 18.594 10.074 12.224 7.100 10.448 11.605 12.468 14.224 19.877
2007 4.291 7.500 13.179 12.651 13.198 14.623 21.238 10.326 13.065 7.018 10.272 11.957 13.363 23.256 24.489
2008 3.603 6.905 12.723 10.801 12.664 13.623 19.561 10.489 13.582 7.477 9.732 11.461 13.403 27.730 28.231
2009 3.739 7.208 9.657 10.991 10.705 11.201 17.016 9.488 11.553 7.360 8.030 10.114 13.927 24.590 32.591
2010 3.638 5.623 7.783 9.239 11.428 10.572 15.792 9.267 12.499 6.224 6.558 9.705 13.036 30.031 34.571
2011 3.534 4.824 9.356 9.052 10.647 8.847 14.188 9.226 11.277 5.966 6.596 10.974 11.568 25.147 34.951
2012 2.556 3.001 10.627 6.422 9.800 9.618 11.546 9.112 12.828 7.191 7.803 10.620 11.986 19.129 32.071
2013 2.234 3.366 9.386 6.988 8.479 9.310 11.234 8.715 10.960 7.236 8.279 9.045 12.729

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