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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-040    Date:  July 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-040
Date: July 2016


Evaluation of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons and Rapid Flashing Beacons



Two pedestrian treatments receiving national attention are the rectangular rapid-flashing beacon (RRFB) and the pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) (originally termed High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) when developed). These devices have noteworthy characteristics that produce improved vehicle stopping and yielding behavior to crossing pedestrians. Characteristics include brighter indications, unique beacon arrangements and flash patterns, and activation only when pedestrians are present. The PHB was added to the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).(1) The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided Interim Approval 11 (IA-11) for the optional use of the RRFB at uncontrolled pedestrian and school crosswalks on July 16, 2008.(4)

The Signals Technical Committee (STC) of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) assists in developing language for chapter 4 of the MUTCD.(1) STC is interested in research and/or assistance in the development or refinement of material on these devices, especially the RRFB, which is being considered for the next edition of the MUTCD. This FHWA project included studies that can help with refining these devices.


The objectives of the four studies performed under this FHWA project were refined during the course of the research. The revised objectives are based on proposed research plans that were modified using comments from FHWA and the project panel. Specific objectives are highlighted in the following subsections.

Impact of Rapid-Flashing Yellow Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) on Detecting Pedestrians in a Closed-Course Setting

The objectives of the closed-course study were as follows:

Driver-Yielding Results for Beacons Placed Above or Below Crossing Sign in an Open-Road Setting

The objective of the open-road study was to identify motorist yielding rates for the different test conditions selected at the conclusion of the closed-course study. Specifically, the test conditions selected included placing the rectangular beacons above and below the sign.

Driver-Yielding Results for Three Rectangular Rapid-Flash Patterns in an Open-Road Setting

The objective of the flash pattern study was to determine if simpler flash patterns than the one that was tested prior to the issuance of IA-11 would be equally effective or more effective in encouraging driver yielding at crosswalks.(4)

PHB Study

The objective of the PHB study was to evaluate driver and pedestrian behaviors at PHB installations. This study was to provide insight into the actual behavior of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians at locations with a PHB.


The research was conducted in a series of tasks as follows:


This report includes the following chapters:



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