New law gives semis right-of-way in roundabouts

Posted at 10:26 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 23:29:47-04

GREEN BAY, WI -- A new law says all traffic must yield to semi trucks in Wisconsin's roundabouts.

And it doesn't just apply to semis. 
In short, Wisconsin Act 139 makes it so all vehicular traffic must yield to any semi or truck 40 ft. or larger when approaching, or in a roundabout, regardless of which lane the smaller vehicle occupies when in the roundabout with the semi.   
The law says semi-trucks also legally have as much freedom as they need to negotiate a turn, which often includes cutting into the next lane while turning in a roundabout. 
If you don't personally, chances are you know someone who gets anxiety in a roundabout.
"I used to hate them," laughs Haily Blazer, of Princeton, "I avoided them when I first got my license."
And certain situations are worse than others, such as "definitely a semi next to me," says Blazer, "and when people aren't paying attention, and they're kind of just cutting over in the lanes. That's a little nerve wracking."
But big rigs already have trouble making the tight turn without taking up both lanes.
"It causes crashes," says WI State Trooper Scott Reignier, "and that's what we're really trying to avoid." 
That's why Reignier says the new law, passed in February, gives all trucks 40 ft. or longer the right-of-way in roundabouts no matter what.
"If another vehicle and a truck over 40 feet approach the roundabout at the same time," says Reignier, "even though that other vehicle may be on the left, and have the right-of-way in normal circumstances--now the larger vehicle has the right-of-way."  
Reignier says, even though traffic is typically moving slowly in roundabouts, being pinched by a turning semi can be deadly.
"Semis, you have to remember, can weight up to 80,000 pounds," says Reignier. "Versus a small car--it's not a good situation." 
What if two semis take the roundabout at the same time? 
According to this new law, the semi in the left lane has the right-of-way, and the truck on the right must yield.
The new roundabout legislation also states that the same right-of-way rules apply to all vehicles no less than ten-feet wide.