Safe Routes Scoop

New Technology Helps

Pedestrians Cross the Road

signs. An eight-month study conducted by Tucson found HAWK signals increased driver compliance, which had been 30 percent, to 93 percent. Similarly, the Texas Transportation Institute found in a study that the HAWK signal achieved 97 percent motorist compliance. Currently, NJDOT is working on installing a HAWK signal on Route 27 in Roselle.


The HAWK signal, however, is not compatible with the current 2003 edition of the MUTCD, deviating from standards because the beacon signal remains dark until activated by a pedestrian. The MUTCD requires that full traffic signals (red-yellow-green) must remain on at all times.  The HAWK system also deviates from current MUTCD standards through its use of an alternating red indication. Typically, alternating flashing is reserved for warnings at draw bridges, as emergency beacons, and in railroad crossing signals. 


What is a Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon?

A Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon, or RRFB, consists of solar-powered, high intensity LED beacons mounted under crosswalk signs at uncontrolled crosswalks. Normally dark, the RRFB when activated by a pedestrian flashes rapidly in a wig-wag pattern similar to that used on emergency vehicles. Pedestrians push a button to activate the LED flashers,

and then wait for vehicles to stop before crossing. The RRFB ceases flashing after a predetermined time based upon MUTCD standards to allow for safe pedestrian crossings.


RRFBs in Use 
Extensive experimentation with RRFBs has been completed by St. Petersburg, Florida at 18 uncontrolled pedestrian crosswalks. The data from the St. Petersburg experiments show motorist "yield to pedestrians" compliance ranges from the high 80th percentile to nearly 100 percent, versus a 15 to 20 percent compliance rate for standard beacons. The high yield rates were sustained after two years of operation and no negative effects have been identified. The St. Petersburg data also shows that drivers start yielding much further in advance of crosswalks with RRFB than for crosswalks protected with standard yellow flashing beacons. Data from other locations, while limited, has produced very similar results to those found in St. Petersburg. A study from Miami/Dade County, Florida found that evasive conflicts between drivers and pedestrians, as well as instances of pedestrians trapped in the center of undivided roadways by non-yielding drivers were both significantly reduced by RRFBs to negligible levels. Data from an RRFB site in Washington, DC reveal motorist compliance with yielding increased from 26 percent to 74 percent after 30 days in operation. Advance

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