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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-043
Date: September 2010

Effects of Yellow Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons on Yielding at Multilane Uncontrolled Crosswalks

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

St. Petersburg, FL, has approximately 100 uncontrolled crosswalks located in close proximity to pedestrian generators and attractors that do not meet current pedestrian signal warrants. It is difficult for pedestrians to safely cross at these locations because these crosswalks are located along wide high-speed multilane roads, are not in close proximity to traffic signals, and have low percentages of drivers yielding to pedestrians.

With the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) permission to experiment, the city has taken steps to address this problem by installing solar-powered, radio-controlled, pedestrian-activated amber light-emitting diode (LED) rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFBs) mounted under pedestrian crosswalk signs at 19 existing uncontrolled crosswalks. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the behavioral effects of this treatment on driver yielding at these crosswalks and to determine variables that influence the efficacy of this treatment.

STUDY APPROACH

The objective of the research effort was to evaluate whether RRFBs could increase driver yielding to pedestrians on high-volume, multilane crosswalks. Researchers selected three cities in the United States, with typically low percentages of drivers who yield to pedestrians: St. Petersburg, FL; Washington, DC; and Mundelein, IL. The research team also wanted to determine the optimum way to install the device. Because the RRFB is side mounted, researchers compared mounting the beacons on only the side of the road as well as mounting them on the side of the road plus in the median or refuge island to increase visibility in all traffic lanes.

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United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration