Visitors to Hilton Head Island have navigated them for years. Motorists in Riverwood Plantation have grown accustomed to theirs in recent months.
And coming soon, Hereford Farm Road could have the intersection configuration often cursed by drivers but loved by traffic engineers: The roundabout, or traffic circle.
Columbia County officials are contemplating a $900,000 project in the Hereford Farm-Cox-Gibbs Road area that would include sidewalks, wider roads and a roundabout.
The National Highway Administration loves roundabouts, a fixture of European cities.
Engineers contend the features, which allow drivers to make only right turns as they navigate an intersection, drastically reduce crashes. And unlike traditional intersections, traffic generally doesn't come to a complete stop at a roundabout.
The downside? Other than the amount of land needed, the greatest problem with roundabouts is that drivers aren't accustomed to them.
Just as Northerners curse the competency of Southern drivers during rare ice storms, motorists with roundabout experience get steamed at novice drivers who stop as if they're waiting on a light to change.
Roundabouts can be immensely confusing to drivers who aren't sure of how to handle them. The devices don't appear on the Georgia driver's license exam, for example, and aren't part of the road test.
That lack of familiarity largely explains why Hereford Farm residents polled by the county rejected the idea of a traffic circle.
At minimum, then, if the county pushes ahead with creating the roundabout, the first step has to be an effort at public education. If the devices are as good an idea as engineers believe, it shouldn't be hard to convince the public, should it?
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