Roundabout design not to blame for fatal wreck

On St. Patrick’s Day, a 39-year-old Carmel resident died after crashing a vehicle into a concrete barrier in the middle of a roundabout.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the design of the roundabout isn’t to blame and that alcohol is the likely cause of the crash.

“The roundabout had nothing to do with it,” he said. “We should have the toxicology report back soon, but paraphernalia was found in the vehicle as well as evidence of alcohol use. The motorist was exceeding the speed limit by a large amount.”

The driver was identified as Lambert Doll. Police said he was heading south on Westfield Boulevard near the county border when he failed to negotiate the roundabout at 96th Street and collided shortly after 10:30 p.m. March 17. He was taken to St. Vincent Hospital where he died.

Brainard said it’s very sad that the motorist died, but he noted that head-on collisions with other drivers are more likely with a traffic light as opposed to a roundabout.

“It’s really unfortunate that this happened,” he said. “Unfortunately you can’t make intersections completely accident-proof, especially when speeding and alcohol are involved.”

When asked about paying for roundabout repairs, he said that’s usually handled through a motorist’s insurance company.

In instances where a driver doesn’t have insurance, Carmel has sought restitution for roundabout damages. On Nov. 2, Sangyong Lee crashed a Toyota Sienna minivan at the roundabout at Fourth Avenue Southwest and West Main Street. Lee hit a fountain in the middle of the roundabout, just outside the Carmel Arts & Design District archways and fled on foot. Lee’s blood-alcohol reading was 0.05, a news release said. In late February, Lee agreed to a plea deal of four days in the Hamilton County Jail, 176 days probation and restitution to the city of $17,753 in 90 days.

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5 Responses

  1. David Jackson says:

    We certainly cannot modify human behavior, but why can’t we develope cost-effective roundabout collision buffers?-I dunno-maybe dense foliage, hedges or much more emphasis on night visibility (multiple reflective signs/improved lighting)….I am just as concerned over the near misses that people I know have experienced at that 96th and Westfield roundabout as the passing here of a good friend who made a bad decision.

  2. concerned carmelite says:

    That is 2 fatalities now at this intersection versus none before it was a roundabout. It is very poorly lit and marked. Same with Hazel Dell fatalities. Regardless of the excuses the Mayor makes the facts are counter to his “roundabouts are safer”. Accidents have gone up at roundabout intersections and fatalities also.

  3. concerned citizen says:

    Mr. Aasen, the premise of this article is flat out wrong. The article suggests you did not ask for any opinions other than that of Mayor Brainard. And the title suggests Brandard’s opinion, which you apparently share, is fact. Check out Chapter 49 of INDOT’s design manual. Talk to a professional engineer with any experience in road design, preferably someone not employed by the City or one of its vendors. This is not about roundabouts versus signalized intersections. It is about placing large objects such as decorative concrete walls or blocks in the middle of the circle where they can be impacted by an errant vehicle.

    Accidents can and will happen. It is impossible to design for every single accident scenario. All one can do is follow current best practice. By not following best practice the City has exposed itself to serious liability. Someone already pointed out this was the second fatal accident at the same relatively new intersection. These tragedies indicate a very serious problem.

    While I do enjoy the art and landscaping around the City’s many intersections, the City must still adhere to the basic design elements of roadside safety.

    • ScottRAB says:

      While I agree that design of the central island is important, I can’t agree that there is a serious problem. What is the crash rate? You would have to know how many people use the intersection on a daily basis to determine the crash rate, and then compare it to other intersections to determine if the crash rate at this location is an anomaly.

  4. RKW50 says:

    Perhaps a flashing yellow light at these more dangerous less lit roundabouts?

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