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FHWA Home / Safety / Proven Safety Countermeasures / Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons

The pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) is a traffic control device designed to help pedestrians safely cross higher-speed roadways at midblock crossings and uncontrolled intersections. The beacon head consists of two red lenses above a single yellow lens. The lenses remain “dark” until a pedestrian desiring to cross the street pushes the call button to activate the beacon, which then initiates a yellow to red lighting sequence consisting of flashing and steady lights that directs motorists to slow and come to a stop, and provides the right-of-way to the pedestrian to safely cross the roadway before going dark again.

Graphic: This diagram describes the sequence of signals displayed by a pedestrian hybrid beacon, or PHB. The PHB consists of three lenses, two red lenses on the top of the signal and one yellow lens on the bottom of the signal. The PHB remains dark until activated. When activated, the bottom lens flashes yellow and transitions into a steady yellow signal, signaling motorists to come to a stop. Then, during the pedestrian walk interval, the top two lenses show a steady red signal. During the subsequent pedestrian clearance interval, the two red lenses flash alternatively, left and right. Finally, when the pedestrian clearance interval ends, the signal becomes dark again, and motor vehicle traffic can proceed.

Sequence for a PHB. Source: MUTCD 2009 Edition, Chapter 4F, FHWA

Nearly 74 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersection locations, and vehicle speeds are often a major contributing factor.1 As a safety strategy to address this pedestrian crash risk, the PHB is an intermediate option between a flashing beacon and a full pedestrian signal because it assigns right of way and provides positive stop control. It also allows motorists to proceed once the pedestrian has cleared their side of the travel lane(s), reducing vehicle delay.

Transportation agencies should refer to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for information on the application of PHBs.

In general, PHBs are used where it is difficult for pedestrians to cross a roadway, such as when gaps in traffic are not sufficient or speed limits exceed 35 miles per hour. They are very effective at locations where three or more lanes will be crossed or traffic volumes are above 9,000 annual average daily traffic. Installation of a PHB must also include a marked crosswalk and pedestrian countdown signal. If PHBs are not already familiar to a community, agencies should conduct appropriate education and outreach as part of implementation.

Sources

1. National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, March). Pedestrians: 2018 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 850). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2. Zegeer et al. NCHRP Report 841: Development of Crash Modification Factors for Uncontrolled Pedestrian Crossing Treatments. TRB, (2017).

3. Fitzpatrick, K. and Park, E.S. Safety Effectiveness of the HAWK Pedestrian Crossing Treatment, FHWA-HRT-10-042, (2010).

Safety Benefits:

55%

reduction in pedestrian crashes.2

29%

reduction in total crashes.3

15%

reduction in serious injury and fatal crashes.3

Photo: Example of PHBs mounted on a mast arm.

Example of PHBs mounted on a mast arm. Source: FHWA


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Page last modified on October 28, 2021
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