Rotaries and roundabouts, what’s the difference?

Hampshire County
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Roundabouts and rotaries have become quite common in Massachusetts, but there are certain rules that drivers need to know. 

Roundabouts and rotaries are both meant to mitigate traffic. Massachusetts is home to more than 100 rotaries. Several rotaries have been converted to roundabouts over the years according to MassDOT. 

Rotaries and roundabouts may look similar, but each traffic circle has their own set of road rules. 

Rotaries tend to be much larger in diameter allowing drivers to enter them at speeds between 30 and 40 mph. Roundabouts which is what you see behind me here in Northampton are much smaller and tend to require drivers to enter them at 25 mph or less.

Roundabouts like the one on Conz and Pleasant streets in Northampton always have yield signs while some rotaries may not have them at all. 

One Northampton resident said he remembers what the intersection looked like before the roundabout was built, he said he’s glad the city decided to make the change. 

“The traffic keeps flowing, it’s a wonderful addition to the city, it’s beautiful and very well maintained,” said Michael Krueger of Northampton. 

One Connecticut resident driving through Northampton said there should be more roundabouts in her home state. 

“It would be a nice addition, it actually moves the flow of traffic along and forces people to slow down to keep things a little bit safer,” the Connecticut resident said. “I think they are a good addition to helps maintain the community.” 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found converting intersections into roundabouts decreased collision-related deaths by 90 percent. 

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