A new type of pedestrian-activated signal is expected to make its debut in Spokane Valley last week.
Known as a "HAWK" beacon, the signal was installed on Pines Road where the new segment of the Appleway Trail is under construction just south of Sprague.
Named using an abbreviation for "High-intensity Activated crossWalK," the HAWK beacon is designed to improve safety for pedestrians in crosswalks on high-traffic roadways. The signal uses two red lights and a yellow light to control vehicle traffic when a pedestrian wants to cross.
Because the HAWK beacon remains dark when the crosswalk is not in use, it avoids unnecessary interference with the flow of vehicle traffic.
When a pedestrian pushes a button to activate the signal, a yellow traffic light begins flashing, letting drivers know they should slow down and prepare to stop. The flashing yellow light turns steady yellow to let drivers know that the light is about to change and they must stop when the light turns red.
Once the traffic light turns red and vehicles have stopped, the pedestrian signal displays a steady white image of a walking figure to indicate pedestrians may cross.
After an appropriate period of time, the pedestrian signal changes to a flashing orange hand symbol, with a countdown indicator showing the number of seconds available to finish crossing the street. Once the countdown is completed, the pedestrian signal shows a steady orange hand symbol indicating that pedestrians should not cross.
After the pedestrian signal indicates pedestrians should not cross, the vehicle traffic signal begins alternating flashing red lights. Drivers must pull up to the crosswalk stop line and stop, confirming that all pedestrians have cleared the crosswalk before proceeding.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, HAWK signals are very effective at improving safety at crosswalks where they are installed, reducing pedestrian crashes up to 69 percent and overall roadway crashes by 29 percent.
For more information, contact city of Spokane Valley Traffic Division, 720-5016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.