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Operation Safe Roads: Understanding 'HAWK' crosswalks

Posted at 7:54 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 22:54:01-04

PHOENIX — By the numbers we know that Arizona is not the safest place for pedestrians; in fact, it's dangerous. As part of Operation Safe Roads, we've done a lot of stories about this potentially deadly trend.

Dave Gustafson from Phoenix writes in:

"You had a previous show about 'HAWK' crosswalks. Now show how drivers are supposed to react to those. Drivers do not understand flashing red lights and yielding to pedestrians. Film a segment showing this action; like at 30th St and Indian School Rd."

Here we are at what is the busiest pedestrian beacon in the entire city of Phoenix. Someone uses this crosswalk about a dozen times every hour, every day. As a driver, it doesn't have to intimidate you. All you have to do is learn the rules of the road. So let's dive right into it.

FULL SECTION: Operation Safe Roads

For the lights to start flashing, somebody has to activate this crosswalk; meaning they've got to push the button or else all you'll see is just a dark sign. That's fine. You can keep moving forward safely, of course, driving the speed limit. Once someone does push the button, the first thing you will see is five seconds of cautionary flashing yellow lights. The flashing yellow gives way to a solid yellow, and that means what it means at any intersection across the state of Arizona. Use caution and prepare to stop.

After the solid yellow light, it gives way to a solid red light. That means stop. The people are crossing the street and then have about 20 to 25 seconds depending on the width of the street to make their way safely across. Then you'll see a flashing red light. Now here's the tricky part. The flashing red light, as you can see from the sign, means stop and proceed when safe. Once the people get across the street, the flashing lights may continue, but you can decide, as the motorist, to proceed safely once they are out of the crosswalk even if the lights are still going.

The city of Phoenix has put up about 44 of these pedestrian beacons over the last decade, and they have 22 more in the planning stages. So if you haven't seen them in your neck of the woods, chances are you're going to. You'd better get used to them now and learn the rules of the road so that you're prepared.

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