I am not a fan of roundabouts. While I realize they’re all the fad amongst the traffic planners nowadays, and yes, I’ve read and heard all about the safety features of roundabouts and the crash reduction statistics – but I still don’t like them. There’s a reason why there are jokes in Europe about their roundabouts – the things are clunky and confusing. Every time I go through one, I’m reminded of the cinematic classic “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” where the intrepid Griswold family circle a London roundabout for hours until nightfall when they just all conk out from exhausted boredom. For years, long before roundabouts started popping up all over the Northland like concrete fairy rings, I’ve had issues with that great hive of roundabouts on Tiffany Springs Parkway. For one thing, as all the buildings around that area look the same, it’s difficult to orient yourself by landmarks. It’s not an area I travel every day, either, so even if one time I remember which escape hatch I need to take from the roundabout, three months later I’ve forgotten and end up circling the thing twice – or even three times – while swearing and squinting at the road signs. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I encountered the new one by Briarcliff in Riverside. As it’s taken the place of a traditional on-ramp for Highway 9, it takes a couple extra seconds to figure out, and unlike Tiffany Springs, you have other cars to deal with on this one – cars that were speeding and couldn’t stay in their own lanes. This is where the whole theory with roundabouts reducing crashes falls down to an extent. They’re supposed to reduce T-bone and front-end crashes, and I’m sure they do, but there’s no way they can reduce “people trying to read signs swerving into your lane” crashes. And there’s nothing like that exhilarating feeling you get when somebody else in the roundabout realizes they’re in the wrong lane and cuts right in front of you. Of course, I’m not ruling out the possibility that I’ve done the swerve as well. The husband and I were in the wrong lane, of course, and we circled that Briarcliff roundabout twice before we could get to the highway. This maneuver earned us the friendly “what’s wrong with you?” glares from other drivers (many of whom were clearly confused too) while my husband ranted about why in the world some MoDOT planner thought this was just a great idea. I’m betting whoever got the idea that they’re better than a traditional intersection has never had to drive in one during icy conditions, either. People can’t stay in their own lanes in a straight line during ice, snow – sometimes even in the rain – let alone negotiate a tight curve while trying to figure out which lane they need to take. Admittedly, one of the big problems with roundabouts is ignorance, and I include myself in this. I know the obvious – you stay to the right when entering, you yield to the traffic already in it (and hope other people entering do the same) and you stay in your own lane. Seems simple enough, but even these basics seem to elude some people. I’ve seen it in action more times than I can recall to give a count. Something that would definitely help is better signage and/or pavement markings because there doesn’t seem to be a standard on which to use or when. I’ve seen roundabouts with pavement markings and arrows (which are useless during bad weather events) and some with signs and some with both. Pick one and stick to it so everybody knows where to look. Perhaps, since planners are sprinkling these things throughout the countryside more and more, basic roundabout navigation should become part of driver’s education programs. If that already is part of the training, mea culpa, and good job Missouri. If it has been all along… well, all I can say is I took driver’s ed a long time ago, maybe before there were roundabouts. Sounds legit.