CLEARWATER - The design of the Clearwater Beach Entryway Roundabout has been modified recently based largely on a request made by the Clearwater Police Department.
According to CPD, more than 140 accidents have occurred at the Coronado Drive exit in the last year, most being collisions between vehicles exiting onto Coronado from the inside lane and vehicles in the outside lane wishing to continue around the circle. The conflict between those two lanes of traffic has been a long-standing issue with the roundabout.
The old lane striping at the roundabout's Coronado exit was intended to lead traffic onto south Clearwater Beach, giving those in the inside lane right-of-way over the outside lane. But Clearwater Police Lt. Wayne Andrews said, "We had a real issue with enforcement under the old lane configuration, and most judges wouldn't uphold the tickets we were issuing."
The new lane striping is concentric with the central island, no longer leading traffic off at Coronado. New signage was also posted at the roundabout's entry lanes: "Inside Lane Yield To Outside Lane". These changes give right-of-way to vehicles in the outside lane that want to stay in the circle. Andrews said, "Under the new configuration, it makes the expectations much clearer and allows us to enforce traffic laws easier. It also forces drivers to be more cautious when changing lanes, which is what causes the vast majority of the accidents out here."
The results of the modifications have been promising, although untested from a perspective of traffic carrying capacity. Lt. Andrews said, "We've already seen changes in driver behavior. Those driving on the inside lane are much more conscientious about checking before switching lanes. This time of year, we used to average about 10 accidents per month. In the first 10 days with the new striping, we've only seen one accident. At that rate, we could reduce accidents from over 140 per year to less than 50."
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