Rock County roundabout closed after semitrailer crash

Store owners suing over planned Waunakee roundabout

A roundabout on Highway 59 in Rock County is closed again after a semitrailer crashed Wednesday. The section of road will be closed for construction for the next couple of weeks.

The Department of Transportation doesn’t keep statistics on the number of trucks or semitrailers that have accidents at roundabouts but said roundabouts reduce the severity of crashes.

Driving a 73-foot-long, 8,000-pound vehicle around a tight curve can be a challenge. So it’s easy to see why some truck drivers aren’t big fans of roundabouts.

“I don’t like them a whole lot,” said truck driver Michael Chapman of Janesville.

“They take a little time to get used to,” said truck driver Rob Fletcher of northern Ill. “I think they’re a good thing.”

DOT crews will be doing roadwork on Highway 59 in Milton. They’ll also be repairing a traffic circle near Highway M.

A semitrailer rolled over on Wednesday, and according to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, the driver was going too fast through the roundabout.

The driver in Wednesday’s crash will be ticketed for the incident.

Chapman said it’s also tough driving through roundabouts with other vehicles.

“It’s a hassle in a semi. A lot of cars don’t realize and pay attention that we need to go on the apron. They try and get around us there, which is very dangerous,” said Chapman.

DOT Standards Development Engineer Patrick Fleming said the apron gives truck drivers a little extra space to help truckers get through them safely.

Officials: Education key to safely navigating roundabouts

“That reddish portion of a roundabout is a truck apron and that is actually there for them,” said Fleming.

Fleming said trucks have a higher center of gravity than cars, so if they’re speeding, they have a greater chance of tipping over on the curved roadway.

“Slow down, slow down, slow down going into the roundabouts, and going into and out of your turns. That’s what’s going to cause crashes or worse, rollovers,” said Fleming.

Fleming said better education is the key to safely navigating through roundabouts and Fletcher agrees.

“The company I work for, one of the things for orientation or training is they take the new drivers out and take them through the roundabouts to see if they can handle manipulating them, which I think is a really good thing,” said Fletcher.

The DOT has a website dedicated to roundabouts and how to navigate them safely.