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Driving in Fear of Pedestrians in Crosswalks? DC Tries to Make it Easier

Commuters, others being introduced to a new pedestrian safety system.

If you commute into the District, you may drive in fear of failing to  spot a pedestrian in a crosswalk, especially where there is no stoplight.

In Washington, DC, pedestrians have taken to waving traffic flags to try to get across the street safely.

In an effort to improve the situation, DC Mayor Vincent Gray this week demonstrated the new HAWK signal system at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Northampton Street, reports The Washington Post.

The H-igh-intensity Activated Cross-WalK system is designed to keep pedestrians safe in intersections that do not meet the city’s guidelines for having a full signal. The new system will require a bit of education for both pedestrians and drivers.

Unlike the full (or traditional red, yellow and green) signal, the HAWK system features yellow and red flashing lights that remain dark until activated by a pedestrian pushing a button. The lights cycle between yellow and red, ultimately flashing red until the pedestrian has crossed the intersection.

While drivers may be confused, signs reading “CROSSWALK STOP ON RED” on  overhanging poles and “STOP ON FLASHING RED THEN PROCEED WHEN CLEAR” on street poles are designed to help instruct them.

The district first installed a HAWK signal at Georgia Avenue and Hemlock Streets NW and the Federal Highway Administration approved their widespread use in 2010.

There are two other existing HAWKs (16th and Jonquil Streets, NW and Minnesota Avenue and C Streets, NE), with plans to install two more (Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Ordway Streets NW and 11th Street and Florida Avenue NW).

For more infomation on the HAWK signals, please review the accompanying PDF.

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