NJ To Test New Device To Curb Pedestrian Deaths

pedestrian-struck-cliftonAs pedestrian road deaths remain stubbornly high, New Jersey will soon attempt a push-button, red-light timing technology that’s believed responsible for saving hundreds of lives in at least 20 other states over the last decade. Called HAWK, the device was born in Great Britain, migrated to Tuscon, Ariz., a decade later, and will soon make its Jersey debut on Route 27 near the busy Metropark rail station in Woodbridge.

“We hope it will help us bring down a pedestrian fatality rate that has not kept pace with the overall decline in traffic deaths,” Sheree Davis, a state Department of Transportation official, said at a recent traffic safety forum.

Federal Highway Administration studies showed that Tucson’s HAWK contributed to a 29 percent drop in total crashes, a 69 percent plunge in collisions with pedestrians and a 15 percent reduction in severe crashes. Since the 1999 installation, the city has added 40 more HAWKs, and the technology has spread to Phoenix and dozens more cities.

HAWK was brought to Tucson by the city’s traffic administrator at the time, who noticed a similarly unconventional system during a 1998 British trip. His visit followed a hit-and-run crash that killed two teen pedestrians and injured three others at a Tucson intersection. The official, Richard Nassi, jotted his findings on a napkin.

In New Jersey, the technology is one of the strategies that DOT is recommending to help reduce a pedestrian death toll that jumped 15 percent in 2009 despite a 5 percent drop in overall traffic deaths compared to 2008 and a nearly 18 percent, two-year decline overall.

The driver compliance rate in Tucson hit 97 percent, although some drivers reported initial confusion over lights that sometimes flash and sometimes stay dark, as if to indicate malfunction. The federal highway agency also showed pedestrians use the system about half the time and they reported no difficulty.

Proponents say HAWK is especially useful in places with intermittent high-volume crossings where traditional traffic lights are unnecessary, except at peak hours, including midafternoons when schools let out. Depending on location, the $80,000 cost is generally half the cost of a traditional traffic light. Full story in North Jersey.

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  1. Yet another article on TLS that goes on and on, yet after reading it four times, other than saying its a “red light timing technology” the author completely fails to explain what HAWK is

  2. here’s another solution , DON’T CROSS AGAINST THE LIGHT! If you want to cross the street at the crosswalk where your supposed to, you push that cute little button on the traffic pole and WAIT for it to say WALK! See simple.

  3. Since the article does not explain how the “HAWK” (High-intensity

    Activated crossWalK) beacon system works allow me. HAWK

    beacons would involve installing new lights similar in appearance to

    traffic lights at intersections or at mid-block crosswalks. The lights

    have three high intensity LED’s, two red over one amber. When a

    pedestrian pushes the button on the pole it will activate the amber light

    which will flash and then go solid. Once solid the amber will go out and

    the two red lights will come on meaning motorists now must stop and

    pedestrians may cross. After a programmed amount of time the red

    light will begin to wig-wag meaning if the pedestrian has crossed you

    may proceed but cars that were not already stopped must stop before

    going through. To complete the cycle the lights all go off.

    There are video’s on youtube if you wish to see one in action, just

    search “HAWK Beacon Signal”.

  4. I think they have something like this in L.A. The problem that I saw is that there is no indication to the pedestrian when the red light is going to go out so sometimes you are still crossing are the cars start to move..

  5. It sounds good in theory, but it won’t work in lakewood…People here don’t obey the traffic signals that have been established for years, let alone this new type of flashing light.

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