BOZEMAN — Roundabouts are a relatively new concept in Montana and most drivers get the idea.
But apparently there are a few drivers who are choosing to blow right through them.
The roundabout at 15th Avenue and Beall Street in Bozeman is new, yet, even in the dark, neighbors and Bozeman City Police say it’s easy to see.
And they agree: it makes the neighborhood near Bozeman High School safer.
Yet that isn’t stopping some people from taking a more direct, illegal route.
“A lot of traffic things can get ignored and that’s where crashes can occur,” says Sgt. Travis Munter, Bozeman City Police.
Roundabouts are supposed to make driving through intersections safer.
“They are a safety tool and there are an efficiency tool,” Munter says. “You really have the ability to move a lot of traffic through an intersection safely.”
That depends on who is driving.
Ask those living nearby 15th Avenue and Beall Street, an issue surfaces.
“If people obeyed the law, they would be in better control to see if somebody’s in the crosswalk,” says Mike Welton, who lives facing the intersection.
Mike Welton has lived there for 40 years.
The new roundabout is in his front yard.
“I suspect people maybe at night, maybe somebody will come up to the roundabout and possibly will drive right over it,” Welton says.
If you’re going through the roundabout, you might not notice the fact that people are ignoring it altogether and driving straight through in either direction.
But take a step back and the proof is in the prints in the snow piling on top of it.
Sgt. Munter says the penalties go further than the marks that drivers leave behind.
“Anything from careless driving is probably the big one or if you are intentionally doing it to cause mayhem, you’re look at reckless driving,” Munter says. “It’s something that people will either intentionally ignore or they just happen to miss it and at the last minute, they go bouncing through, straight.”
While most people are playing it safe, police and those like Welton hope people can remember the roundabout before something bad happens.
“Speed is the main thing,” Welton says. “Make sure we slow down and pay attention to our surroundings and go from there.”
Welton says he is also concerned about how fast some drivers take the roundabout, especially considering many students use these crosswalks multiple times a day.