An Evaluation of Flashing Crosswalks in Gainesville and Lakeland

Source: Florida Department of Transportation

In Florida, the cities of Gainesville, Lakeland, and Orlando are using flashing crosswalks at one or more locations. These consist of lights embedded in the roadway on both sides of the crosswalk. Upon activation by a pedestrian, the lights flash at oncoming motorists, thereby alerting them to one or more pedestrians in the crosswalk. Two companies that manufacture flashing crosswalks are Flight Light, Inc. (based in Sacramento, California) and LightGuardJ Systems, Inc. (based in Santa Rosa, California).

It should be pointed out that pedestrian-activated flashers conceptually have a clear advantage over continuous flashers in that the information conveyed by pedestrian-activated flashers to motorists is in "real time." That is, the flashing lights are associated with the presence of pedestrians waiting to cross, as opposed to simply flashing all the time. A continuously flashing device can become part of the background visual clutter that confronts motorists and may lose its effectiveness as motorists tune it out.

Overhead flashers have been used by some highway agencies in conjunction with pedestrian warning signs, and their effects are not clearly known. In-pavement flashing lights need to also be better understood in terms of the effects on motorist and pedestrian behavior.

This report describes evaluations of flashing crosswalks in Gainesville and Lakeland. These evaluations were part of a larger Florida Department of Transportation Safety Office research effort focusing on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

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