HAWK Approved by FHWA

Sherbrooke Crosswalk with and without Hawk

Route 571 and Sherbrooke Drive crosswalk today (left) and with simulated addition of Hawk signal (right)

We’ve long advocated for the use of the HAWK (High Intensity Activated Crosswalk), or Pedestrian Hybrid Signal. Since “a pedestrian hybrid beacon may be considered for installation to facilitate pedestrian crossings at a location that does not meet traffic signal warrants…” (Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices), we suggest that the Township and the County consider the HAWK for Route 571 at Sherbrooke Drive.

Here’s what the Fall 2010 issue of the US DOT Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian Forum says:

The FHWA’s Office of Safety Research recently completed a report on the High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK)—also known as the Pedestrian Hybrid Signal in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The HAWK is a pedestrian activated beacon located on the roadside and on mast arms over major approaches to an intersection.

The HAWK signal head consists of two red lenses over a single yellow lens. It displays a red indication to drivers when activated, which creates a gap for pedestrians to use to cross a major roadway. The HAWK is not illuminated until it is activated by a pedestrian, triggering the warning flashing yellow lens on the major street. After a set amount of time, the indication changes to a solid yellow light to inform drivers to prepare to stop. The beacon then displays a dual solid red light to drivers on the major street and a walking person symbol to pedestrians. At the conclusion of the walk phase, the beacon displays an alternating flashing red light to drivers, and pedestrians are shown an upraised hand symbol with a countdown display informing them of the time left to cross.

The crash types that were examined included total, severe, and pedestrian crashes. From the evaluation that considered data for 21 HAWK sites and 102 unsignalized intersections, the following changes in crashes were found after the HAWK was installed: a 29 percent reduction in total crashes, a 15 percent reduction in severe crashes, and a 69 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes. For more details, visit this website.

The HAWK is now an MUTCD approved device, so a request for experimentation is not necessary. Information on its use can by found in Chapter 4f of the MUTCD.

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