Safe Routes Scoop

New Technology Helps

Pedestrians Cross the Road

yielding distances have also been shown to increase at rates comparable to the St. Petersburg results.


In New Jersey, NJDOT is planning to install a RRFB system on Route 4 in the Elmwood Park/Fairlawn vicinity to allow pedestrians to access the Broadway train station and Park & Ride, which are located on opposite sides of the road. A RFFB will also be installed on Route 27 in Woodbridge at the Metropark train station.


Like the HAWK signal, the RRFB does not meet current MUTCD standards which require round warning beacons that flash approximately once per second and are located within 12 inches of the warning sign they supplement.  However, the FHWA has issued an interim approval for the use of RRFBs as warning beacons under limited conditions.


Advantages and Disadvantages

While full traffic signals are the highest form of traffic control, they are not always the right solution for pedestrian safety. New traffic signals are very expensive and must be warranted or they can cause more harm than good.  At crossings where full signals aren’t warranted, HAWKs or RRFBs could provide a good solution. However, as with full traffic signals, HAWK signals and RRFBs also come with advantages and disadvantages.

HAWK’s main advantage lies within its construction. By using standard traffic signal heads, HAWK looks familiar to drivers, making it more likely they will stop. Another advantage of HAWK involves the signal timing which minimizes traffic delay. By minimizing delays, HAWK avoids diverting traffic to side streets and creating new problems. 


HAWK’s major disadvantage is its high price, estimated between $75,000-$100,000, depending on the width of the street and the length of mast-arm poles. Operational costs are estimated around $2,000 per year. Conversely, price is one of the RRFB’s primary advantages – an “Enhancer” RRFB system starts at $14,000 for two units. With the impressive rates of driver-yielding behavior shown through studies and their low cost, RRFBs could prove to be an appealing option.   


Depending on the specific setting and situation, one system may prove to be more appropriate than the other. With the inclusion of these new technologies anticipated in the revised MUTCD, navigating midblock crossings and other uncontrolled locations throughout the state might become a little easier – and safer - for New Jersey pedestrians.

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