These days, no one is concerned about the chicken when it comes to crossing the road. Instead, people are talking about the HAWK, or High intensity Activated crossWalK. A team of traffic engineers in Tucson, Arizona, developed the HAWK, and cities across the country are now jumping on board and installing these crosswalks on their own busy streets.

The HAWK, often found along stretches of busy roads without intersection crosswalks, looks much like a traffic light, but it is dark until a pedestrian presses the button to cross. Once the button is pressed, the light signal will flash yellow to warn traffic to stop, switch to a steady yellow, and finally change to a steady red. When the light turns red, the pedestrian receives a signal to cross. Once the walk phase is complete, the light will begin to flash red, which allows cars to come to a complete stop and then pass through the crosswalk if it is clear. At the end of the cycle, the light will go dark again.

After the HAWKs were implemented in Tucson, the Federal Highway Administration conducted a study to evaluate their effectiveness from a safety perspective. Researchers were shocked to find that traffic accidents were reduced by up to 29 percent, and pedestrian accidents dropped by 69 percent. The signals have been so successful that the Federal Highway Administration included the technology in its standards manual, allowing states to install HAWKs without special federal permission.

Why do these crosswalks work so well? Many say that drivers are conditioned to pay special attention to traffic lights, and the HAWK’s intense visibility captures a driver’s attention better than a simple crosswalk painted on the road. As HAWKs become more prevalent on streets everywhere, drivers will become even more familiar with how to properly approach and drive through these crosswalks.

Are there HAWKs in your neighborhood? Have they made you feel safer when you are crossing the street? Sound off in the comments below or discuss it with your friends by sharing this article on social media today!


Damian Mallard, Esq.
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