Roundabout crash study sheds light on driver errors

An 18-month study by Washington County revealed several causes of crashes in Forest Lake’s downtown roundabout. (Graphic courtesy of Washington County)
An 18-month study by Washington County revealed several causes of crashes in Forest Lake’s downtown roundabout. (Graphic courtesy of Washington County)


Clint Riese
News Editor

(Editor’s note: Last week’s article about the downtown Forest Lake roundabout included an inaccurate statement regarding driver errors attributed to Adam Josephson of the Department of Transportation. The information he provided was misinterpreted by the newspaper. The proper information is provided below.) 

A study of each crash over an 18-month period at the roundabout in downtown Forest Lake reveals several types of driver errors are to blame.

The two-lane roundabout, built in 2010, will in August be restriped by the Department of Transportation to a one-lane circle to reduce confusion.

Joe Gustafson, a transportation engineer for Washington County, last week shared results of the crash history study that took place from January of 2011 through June of 2012.

In five instances, drivers in the northbound, right-hand lane tried illegally to turn through the roundabout onto Broadway Avenue rather than proceeding straight through the roundabout and continuing on Lake Street. In these cases, the crash occurred when the outside vehicle turned left into a vehicle proceeding north (legally) from the inside lane.

Another five crashes involved drivers entering the roundabout failing to yield to exiting vehicles from the left.

Three times, drivers tried to turn right from the left-hand lane while entering the roundabout.

Five vehicles were rear-ended, while one crash was due to a vehicle chaning lanes in the roundabout.

Drivers exiting from the inside lane always have the right of way, Gustafson noted.

  • F.L. Resident

    It could also be said that that improper engineering of this project is to blame. Everyone knows that everyone is stupid when it comes to driving and to throw in a roundabout without proper education and direction will lead to accidents. Not everyone knows how to navigate a roundabout and I am pretty sure not everyone will in the future. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • T Rex

      Actually in the future we will have more adequatly educated drivers when it comes to roundabouts. My generation never was taught these because they did not exist anywhere in Minnesota up until about 10 years ago. At least that I ever knew of. Now they are getting more popular to meet the demands of high traffic flow in many different towns. Changing the format of this roundabout will not help anyone. It will only slow the progress down. It will be funny when we are paying money to restripe it into a two lane roundabout again in about 5 years.

  • ScottB

    Everyone is stupid?

    Some just don’t give full attention to driving a 3,000 steel cage around, that’s all. The non-crashes don’t get reported, remember.

    Any fatalities? Seems like the same mistakes at green light speed would have had more severe results. How does this intersection compare to a similar one with a signal instead?

  • Jeremy

    Why is it so hard to navigate a roundabout?

    Multiple times per day I drive through the round about pulling a 24′ enclosed trailer.

    I have no issues.

    If there is someone coming from the left, you wait. If you are in the roundabout, you have the right away.

    It’s been said before, if you can’t handle the roundabout, stay on 4th or stay south of town and take your chances on 12th.

    Stay out of my way.

  • Don M

    I would agree with the past two posts. Not rocket science here, but you actually DO have to pay attention while you are driving…….hard for some people to realize!!