Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons
What are Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons?
A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) acts like a traffic signal and is designed to catch drivers' attention at pedestrian crosswalks and improve safety. Because a PHB operates similarly to a regular traffic signal, both drivers and pedestrians already have the skill set to respond easily and quickly, but they do not require traffic to stop unless a pedestrian needs to cross.
How do they work?
- A pedestrian presses the button and waits for the lights to activate.
- The PHB acts similarly to regular traffic signals, first turning yellow, and then red to alert drivers to come to a full stop.
- Toward the end of the walk cycle, the solid red lights begin flashing and act like a stop sign. This allows drivers to proceed if the crosswalk is clear.
How effective is a PHB?
Researchers for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found a PHB can reduce auto-pedestrian crashes by nearly 70%.
Drivers correctly yield to pedestrians at a PHB at much higher rates (over 90%) than at traditional crosswalks (about 30%). Again, drivers only need to stop when the PHB is activated.
A PHB can be used in locations where a traditional traffic signal cannot be justified or would present too great a disruption to automobile traffic; but there is a need for a higher level of pedestrian protection than regular crosswalks.
How much do they cost?
The cost to implement these devices can vary from location to location depending on existing conditions, the design details chosen, the availability of on-hand materials, and other similar factors. For most local roadways of typical width, the anticipated cost ranges between $25,000 and $35,000; for comparison a regular traffic signal costs from $100,000 to $150,000.
The City of Austin has implemented 26 of these devices. Of these, five were existing flashing yellow lights converted to PHBs; the others were at new locations. The conversions cost about $7,000 each, while the new PHBs were about $25,000 each including labor and materials.