ITE Journal - March 2021 - 24

T

he pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) is a traffic control device used at pedestrian
crossings (see example in Figure 1). It was first included in the 2009 Manual
on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and was based on the HAWK
(High-intensity Activated crossWalk) beacon developed in Tucson, AZ, USA.1

The device is pedestrian activated and upon activation, drivers see a sequence of indications
that start with a flashing yellow, then a steady yellow, followed by two steady red indications,
and then alternating flashing red, after which the device goes into the resting dark mode.
Pedestrians see the Walk sign when a steady red is displayed to drivers. After the Walk
phase ends, pedestrians see the flashing Don't Walk along with a countdown, after which
the pedestrian signal head would show the resting steady Don't Walk indication. Additional
guidance is available on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Arizona
Department of Transportation (ADOT) websites.2, 3, 4
The focus of a recent ADOT research effort was to investigate:5
ƒ	 Operational performance of the PHB on higher-speed
local or state-maintained roads.
ƒ	 Changes in crash frequency, severity, and crash types
(e.g., rear-end crashes) due to the PHB presence as well as
in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

Mike Cynecki

The PHB has shown considerable potential for improving
pedestrian safety and driver yielding.6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 While

Figure 1. Example of a pedestrian hybrid beacon on SR 95 at 5th Street in
Bullhead City, AZ, USA.
24

Ma rch 2021

ite j o u rn al

previous studies have proven the effectiveness of PHBs,
questions on the effect of PHBs on higher-speed roads and
on rear-end crashes or severe crashes had not been fully
addressed because of limited sample size.

Operations
Ten crossing locations in Arizona on streets with higher-operating-speeds (85th-percentile speed ranging between 44 and
54 miles per hour (mph) [70.8 and 87 kilometers per hour (km/
hr)] were selected for this study and operations/compliance
data were collected in the spring of 2018. Table 1 summarizes
the characteristics of the sites used in the operations study. The
final dataset reflected about 40 hours of video data and included
1,214 pedestrians or bicyclists crossing at PHBs.

Overall, driver yielding for these 10 sites averaged 97
percent (see Table 2). In a 2016 FHWA study, data were
collected at 20 sites where the posted speed limit was typically
35 or 40 mph (56.3 or 64.3 km/hr) with one site at 30 mph
(48.2 km/hr) and one site at 45 mph (72.4 km/hr).11 That
study found an overall yield rate of 96 percent with per-site
yield rates ranging between 87 percent and 100 percent. The
FHWA study included 12 sites in Tucson, AZ, and eight sites
in Austin, TX, USA. The average driver-yielding rate for the
12 Arizona sites was 97 percent. The current ADOT study



ITE Journal - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - March 2021

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