Motorists in Essex will be the first in the UK to experience square roundabouts when a trial gets underway in February 2016. Experts in traffic flow from the University of North Essex have identified ten regular roundabouts in the county that could benefit from being converted to squares, and these ‘turnabouts’ will be carefully monitored to check if any improvements are made to journey times.
Professor Joshua Angle is heading up the project in conjunction with Essex Council, and he explained the science behind the idea to Southend News Network. He said, ‘The problem with roundabouts in their current form is that they are circular – this is an infinite shape, and therefore in theory a motorist could drive round and round without ever being able to get off. We asked 1000 motorists in Basildon how many times they go around a roundabout before taking an exit, and the average answer was seven. Therefore, a huge amount of time is being wasted every day.’
He continued, ‘A square actually makes far more sense as it is made up of four sides. Motorists have a chance to come to a natural stop at each corner and take a good look both ways before deciding what to do next. At the moment, if three cars arrive at a mini roundabout simultaneously nobody knows who should get priority. This simply cannot happen when the roundabout is square.’
The exact locations haven’t been revealed yet, but we have had confirmation that five of the new ‘turnabouts’ will be installed in Southend, with two in Basildon and Colchester respectively. The final square roundabout is rumoured to be in Clacton, but this will only be on a part-time basis.
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