What drives you crazy? Navigating the traffic circle at Arlington and Cahaba Road

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(WIAT) — I received a complaint from a viewer who says navigating the roundabout at Arlington and Cahaba Road in Birmingham can be confusing for drivers.

About these roundabouts.

Why don’t people understand how roundabouts work? People already in the roundabout have the right of way. Those who are about to enter yield for those already making their way around. So why is it more often than not, people will come to halting stops in the middle of the roundabout where Arlington turns into Cahaba Rd.? It can easily cause accidents because the people already following them aren’t expecting them to stop, and then all of sudden they slam on breaks for me (while I’m either yielding or at a complete stop already) so that I can enter. Then there’s that awkward back and forth where it’s like “oh okay I’ll go, oh but it looks like you’re going so you can go. Oh, you’re going to wait for me? Okay, I’ll go. Oops, we’re going at the same time again.”

I do know that only 1 of the 4 entrances to the roundabout have a yield sign, and for a while, I thought that may have been the confusion. But the people already in the roundabout wouldn’t be able to see the entering yield signs as they’re driving around, so that wouldn’t necessarily fix the issue. I don’t know. But the windy roads over there are already bad enough. Adding the roundabout confusion is extra annoying.

It turns out, this “roundabout” is actually considered a “traffic circle” because of the road rules established when it was put in decades ago.

The rules have not been updated because the project has not changed. However, the city’s department head of Traffic and Engineering Greg Dawkins says that they recognize the confusion and are trying to retrofit it without changing the landscape of the area.

Right now, the only signage to help direct traffic is a yield sign at Argyle Road and a stop sign at Aberdeen Road. Drivers coming from those streets are to yield or stop. Drivers traveling straight along Arlington/Cahaba Road are to not stop UNLESS you are doing a U-turn around the traffic circle. If you are going to cross over Arlington/Cahaba Road at any point, then you must stop and wait for the traffic with the right away to continue through.

We will update on when Birmingham plans to move forward to clear the confusion and update the heavily traveled area to and from English Village.

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