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First roundabouts cause some confusion

20 Comments

Roundabouts were introduced at 15 locations around Japan for the first time this week, but many motorists were confused.

Signs were put up at each roundabout, with arrows showing that vehicles must drive clockwise only.

For readers who might not have seen them, a roundabout is a kind of circular intersection where traffic flows continuously around a center island. Drivers must merge into the circle, giving way to those who are already on it, and then turn off at their exit. Because you have to slow down or stop in order to merge into the circle, roundabouts are considered a safer option to stoplight intersections, where full-speed collisions can result in death and serious injury.

Roundabouts also allow traffic to keep on flowing smoothly when there is no traffic ahead as, although drivers are required to reduce their speed, there is no need to come to a complete stop if the road is clear.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism established an expert panel last year to perform a feasibility study on roundabouts.

On Monday, the first 15 opened to traffic in seven cities -- with mixed results.

A driver in Suzaka, Nagano, told TBS: "I'm confused about how many times I have to stop. Is it just once?"

A pedestrian said: "I prefer traffic lights since I know when to stop and when to go."

The ministry said roundabouts will be introduced in another 34 places this year.

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20 Comments
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Roundabouts in FLorida are a nightmare due to the general aging problem in the state. People are too afraid to enter it, or even worse, to afraid to exit it. Tons of accidents at them.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Being a Brit I love roundabouts and prefer them to intersections. My hometown in the UK removed a roundabout and replaced it with a intersection a few years back and it has just caused confusion and traffic problems.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Opposite problem in Maryland whose drivers think a yield sign is for RoW traffic. As a regular merging traffic fails to yield to circle trafficrwsulting in constant accidents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hope they introduce them where I live, we just have traffic lights every few hundred meters, which the natives insist on driving through when they are red....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Great initiative Japan ! Of course first time it is confusing, as anything else. Just need to follow road instructions. I find very dangerous all small intersections where any hit can happen without any ability to anticipate. Heaven saving lifes. Energy saving too Environmental friendly Lost driver's friend too. U turn helper ... I was telling my wife just a few months ago that it would be a formidable development in the first world of road infrastructures to have them in Japan. Hope spreading will never stop from now on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I remember when they were introduced in Australia (30 odd years ago) there was some confusion, but people got used to them very quickly. I think smaller roundabouts are difficult, but the bigger ones are a breeze to get through. There are some in Oz that are huge and they work very well.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

It saved my town in France from heavy traffic jams, and must have made me gain hours or days in my life surely, as I tended to drive a lot for a few years. Please put more positive remarks than talk confusion which comes invalid after first times.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Roundabouts are proven to flow traffic much better than lights, simple education is needed to teach the stupid ones how to use them and traffic will flow smoothly.

Nothing scary about them, indicate your intention early and get into the left lane when exiting, no big deal.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Roundabouts were introduced at 15 locations around Japan for the first time this week

Except for the roundabout that is near my house and has been since looooooong before I moved here about 20 years ago. I love it. Much better than waiting at a red light with no other cars in sight.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

roundabouts are a great idea but because japanese roads tend to be so narrow they may not be viable here. cars can still go pretty fast if they only need to exit at the next corner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At least where I live, Japanese drivers rarely let you in if you need to merge into traffic or change lanes. They always want to be in front and constantly tailgate. A roundabout sounds like a recipe for disaster. I can imagine cars pulled over and parked in them, as the drivers here will do that anywhere, regardless of danger or inconvenience to others.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese drivers are quite bad, rarely giving way, letting in for lane changes. Therefore roundabouts where there is heavy traffic on one lane only is a nightmare for the rest - they will have to wait forever for an opening. Driving in West Europe's country side is a breeze comparing to here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

English drivers know how to use them. Great. Italian drivers don't know because they never had them so when introduced recently there were a lot of accidents. Same will happen in Japan. Question: can a country survive without them? Are they so badly needed? Why now? Was it mandated by some global trade agreement?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If you drive when there is not a lot of traffic, roundabouts make sense and can save you a lot of time. Especially in Japan where stoplights are just on timers. I hate when I'm sitting at a stoplight for a couple of minutes and there is absolutely no traffic anywhere. Those stoplights for crosswalks that turn red when no one is crossing are kind of annoying too. I like the States where you have stoplights that stay green for the main flow of traffic and only turn red when traffic going across approaches a stoplight. Very efficient and saves commuters lots of time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who remembers the scene in National Lampoon's European Vacatoin when Chevy Chase's character kept driving around and around in around-about in Paris??? THAT WAS FUNNY.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Roundabouts? On entering just.....close your eyes....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think roundabouts (or traffic circles) make a lot of sense. but here in Japan where decisiveness is not a typical character trait i can see they might lead to a lot of confusion and accidents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Roundabouts are great. If Japanese can´t handle them, they should not get intl. drivers licenses.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Who remembers the scene in National Lampoon's European Vacatoin when Chevy Chase's character kept driving around and around in around-about in Paris??? THAT WAS FUNNY

First thing I thought of when I saw this thread. Actually, it's one of the first things I think pretty much every time I enter a roundabout.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hate when people don't know to yield when entering roundabout ... or maybe don't care to yield ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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