Considering the fact that there were statistically none in the United States back in 1990, the rise and occurence of roundabouts on our roadways is pretty staggering.  Especially when recent surveys show that there are more than 9,000 installed across the country.

The number of circular navigational aids is probably even higher than that because it doesn't take into account more the more-than 700 "traffic calming circles" and 160-plus "rotaries" that are also located in this country.  Both of these intersection designs are often mis-labeled as roundabouts by those who don't study highways and transportation. (More on this later on in this story)

And considering how common roundabouts have become, it's interesting to note that the majority of those roundabouts have been installed in some of the least-populated parts of the country.  As Lee Rodegerdts - a commissioned expert on roundabouts for the Federal Highway Administration - shares, geography and demographics plays a role.  In an article in the Washington Post, he offers:

"It's very hard to fit roundabouts into our dense urban environment.  And so most of the roundabouts have been going in, either in brand-new subdivisions or are retrofits of existing - often suburban or rural - intersections."

While there are still detractors to the intersection type, the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to roundabouts. And because those pros are safety related (and often the difference between life and death), transportation agencies have started using them as the preferred choice for highway design.

Here are just a few of the impressive benefits that come with roundabouts:

In urban settings:

  • Fatal crashes are reduced by 90%
  • All vehicle-to-vehicle collision injuries are reduced by "at least" 75%

In rural settings:

  • A reduction in all traffic injuries by "almost" 90%.  Most of which comes from the removal of the "T-Bone Accident", which is generally physically impossible to occur with a roundabout intersection

So what state in the country has the most roundabouts? There are three ways of looking at those tabulations:  Rank Per Mile, Rank Per Person, and an overall score.  Based on sourced documents compiled by Lee Rodegerdts of Kittelson & Associates, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Transportation Statics, here are the champions:

  • Maryland leads the nation with most roundabouts per mile of roadway
  • Nebraska leads the nation with most roundabouts per person
  • Florida tops the ranking when you combine Per Mile and Per Person rankings - with 749 roundabouts total.

What about closer to home?

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin rank pretty high in all three comparisons; for Northland drivers, that probably comes as no surprise. Here are those rankings:


  • #14 per mile of roadway
  • #4 per person
  • #8 when ranked overall - with 430 roundabouts total


  • #8 per mile or roadway
  • #2 per person
  • #4 when ranked overall - with 495 roundabouts total

The complete list is available by clicking here.  That website also offers a unique perspective with an interactive map that lets you watch the growth of the roundabout across the country from 1990 to today.

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