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Our view: Roundabouts worth a try

A roundabout intersection can be confusing for drivers the first time they encounter one. There are no stoplights, and you wind up driving in a circle, something we rarely do.

The second time, they’re less confusing. The third time around, it makes sense.

Drivers in McHenry County might become more familiar with these intersections soon if a plan by the Illinois Department of Transportation is approved.

Proponents of roundabouts say that at lower-traffic intersections, they can decrease traffic congestion and are a safer alternative to traditional, stoplight-governed intersections. They take away the chance that a left-turning car will be “T-boned” by oncoming traffic, for example.

Those benefits would seem to outweigh any potential danger from drivers being temporarily unfamiliar with a new kind of driving manuever.

The first roundabout intersection is planned for Route 20 and Harmony Road, west of Huntley. It could be constructed next year, with two more planned for 2014.

We have faith in the ability of drivers to pick up on how a roundabout intersection works. Drivers all over the world, including in neighboring states such as Wisconsin and Indiana, have figured it out.

Essentially you merge in, drive in a circle until you get to the exit you want, and then you’re out. There’s no waiting for a light to change when the intersection is deserted, and if you’re not sure where you’re going, you can keep going in a circle until you figure it out.

Traffic congestion is one of the ongoing challenges that drivers in McHenry County face. If roundabouts can help alleviate that problem and make some intersections safer, it’s difficult to see the case against them.

Some people are naturally resistant to change no matter what it is. But if roundabout intersections can be a change for better, we might as well give them a try.

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