Roundabout at dangerous intersection opens Friday

OKLAHOMA COUNTY – The intersection of 178th and Meridian, with a history of dangerous collisions, reopened Friday as a traffic circle.

“The roundabout makes vehicles slow down,” said Superintendent Ron Cardwell of Oklahoma County District 3.

Numerous serious wrecks have occurred at the rural Oklahoma County stop already in 2018. The roundabout takes the place of a two-way stop at the four-way intersection.

“I think the accidents mainly have been from inattentive drivers,” said Cardwell. “Sight distance is half a mile in every direction here. Sometimes some people expect other cars to stop.”

After discussions with engineers and the County Commissioner, the roundabout was chosen because studies show  it improves safety but also increases capacity over a four way stop. Cardwell adds that research suggests they are more efficient at preventing accidents with injury by 75%.

In addition to the roundabout, the speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph for east-west traffic and 55 mph for north-south traffic. The roundabout also has reflective poles, or delineators, that Cardwell says add a layer of protection.

“If there is an inattentive driver, they might bump one of these delineators,” he said. “They might get a little thump, but wont cause any harm.”

County crews also added a traffic camera. Cardwell says the roundabout is one of few in the state, and keeps traffic flowing while preventing cars from blowing through the intersection.

“That’s going to be a lot more difficult here, because of the general sweeping curves,” said Cardwell.

“It creates a lot of natural gaps so that when you come up to the intersection if you do not see a vehicle crossing in front of you, you can then enter the roundabout and proceed either straight right or left,” said Cardwell.

Some have worried that drivers, especially younger motorists, won’t be familiar with the unconventional intersection. Cardwell says there are numerous videos online to watch.

“You look to the left if that vehicle crosses in front of you you need to wait until such a time there is no vehicle in front of you, and then you can enter the roundabout.”