Carmel mayor pushes for statewide right-of-way change for roundabouts

A new bill is looking to give the right-of-way to large trucks in roundabouts throughout Indiana.

Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, authored the bill after Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard brought the issue to him and several other state lawmakers.

Since large trucks can have trouble staying in one lane while going through a roundabout, the bill would require cars to yield to the trucks.

Brainard said he received an email from an out-of-state truck driver who felt he was breaking the law by spilling over into the other lane in the roundabout.

“The two-lane roundabout, the civil engineers that designed them know that large trucks, long trucks or wide trucks have to take up more than one lane to get through them, and they have been designed that way, but the law did not really account for it,” Brainard said.

Brainard also added that the state of Wisconsin had already made this change, and the Carmel City Council passed a local version of the requirement in December. 

Carmel, which is known for its roundabouts, recently surpassed having more than 100 of the traffic circles. Brainard said since moving to the roundabout design, the city has seen a 90 percent drop in fatalities at intersections and a 40 percent reduction in all types of accidents. Roundabouts typically move four to five times more cars per hour.

Lawmakers in committee Wednesday were concerned about how drivers would be alerted to the right-of-way change if the bill became law. Some worried signs informing drivers about the change could distract drivers.

In Carmel, Brainard said the plan would be to let drivers know about the change through social media and different marketing techniques.

Torr made it clear that they did not want to “clutter up” the roadside with signs. Instead, he expects the bill to be an educational tool. He said that in the beginning he does not want tickets to be given for those who violate the right-of-way change.

“I would ask Mayor Brainard to work with the police department and ask that for the first couple of years, while people are kinda getting use to this, that they only give warnings for this, and educate the public rather than punishing people for doing what they assumed was the right thing, staying in their lane,” Torr said.

The bill unanimously passed the Roads and Transportation Committee.

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