Pedestrians and Roundabout Safety Continue to Be a Concern

February 02, 2023, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer


an aerial view of a roundaboutTwo recent articles in The Record put roundabout safety in the news again. A 30 year old man was killed in December, and another highlighting ways to make the roundabouts safer. Anecdotally we could add better driving habits to the list of ways to make them safer for pedestrians.

A 30-year-old man died when a driver struck him as he crossed the road. While roundabouts are much safer for drivers reducing serious collisions, they seem to be a challenge for pedestrians to navigate safely. 2022 saw 12 collisions with pedestrians and bicycles involving cars in roundabouts and one fatality. Many of those located near high schools now have crossing guards to increase student safety.

There are now 70 roundabouts in the Region of Waterloo with 37 of them being considered as high-volume roundabouts on busy regional roads. The Region points to a good safety record regarding pedestrians and roundabouts. In the 18 years since the first roundabout was installed there has only been one fatality.

Pedestrians tell another story though. One of uncertainty and driver inattention. The law requires drivers to yield the right of way to pedestrians, but they can be difficult to see at the side of busy roundabouts particularly when drivers’ sight lines are blocked by other vehicles.

Some roundabouts are better designed than others. According to traffic safety experts the smaller ones that have one line of traffic are safer than big ones with multi=lanes like the one at Homer Watson and Ottawa Street South. The smaller the roundabout the slower cars must move making them inherently safer.

Larger roundabouts are usually travelled at higher speeds and have more driver distractions, they have more lanes and less time for driver decision making. They become more dangerous for pedestrians.

There are ways to make roundabouts safer. The Record reported that according to Dr. Jeff Casello at the University of Waterloo the following steps could be taken:

  • Make the lanes for vehicles narrower. This increases safety in two ways. First, drivers are more likely to proceed at slower speeds if the lanes are narrower. If there’s less than one metre between vehicles that are side by side, research shows that those motorists feel they have to drive more conservatively, Casello said. Second, narrower lanes mean the crossing distance is shortened for the pedestrian. The less time a pedestrian spends in front of a vehicle on the road, the better.

Casello says narrowing the lanes can be done to an existing roundabout at low cost, by installing cobblestones on the edges of existing lanes that give the road an uneven texture and make the driver feel the vehicle shouldn’t be on there.

  • Install flashing lights overhead at the pedestrian crossing, that can be activated when someone is about to cross. It’s not an accident that both the collisions in December happened at the evening rush hour, when it’s dark at this time of year, when there’s more traffic and drivers are more aggressive than usual. “That’s a time of day where, historically, accident rates increase,” he said.

In these situations, drivers need the added reminder of the lights. Flashing lights are already installed at some other crosswalks in the cities. They should have been installed at all roundabouts when they were built. But it’s not expensive to go back and do this now, Casello said.

  • Better education for pedestrians on how to navigate roundabouts, especially if they’re not used to them. Everyone — drivers, pedestrians and cyclists — is each responsible for their own safety, Casello said. “We do have to take ownership for ourselves” and that’s especially true for pedestrians and cyclists who are more vulnerable to serious injury if there is a collision.

If you or a loved on are involved in a car accident, bike accident, or pedestrian collision in a roundabout and are seriously injured please contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today. We will make sure you don’t face your situation alone. Remember if you are injured in a collision with a car while you are walking or on your bicycle you are entitled to insurance benefits.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Automobile Accident Benefits, Bicycle Accidents, Car Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us at 1-519-742-7774.

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