Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Guide

Recommendations and Case Study
Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety

A pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) is a traffic control device similar to a European pedestrian signal (PELICAN) that was imported to the US and adapted by engineers in Arizona to increase motorists' awareness of pedestrian crossings at uncontrolled marked crosswalk locations. A PHB is distinct from pre-timed traffic signals and constant flash warning beacons because it is only activated by pedestrians when needed.

PHBs have been shown to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes. A Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study published in 20101 found that pedestrian hybrid beacons can reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent and total crashes by 29 percent. Because PHBs remain dark until activated, they can help increase driver attention to pedestrians crossing the roadway, and can reduce rear-end collisions. The pedestrian hybrid beacon's red signal indication removes any judgment from the motorists and requires a complete stop. The PHB provides a clear message that motorists must stop and allow pedestrians to cross the street. Motorist compliance with the requirement to yield has been shown to exceed 90 percent at PHBs.2

PHBs are becoming increasingly popular with State and local transportation agencies to fill the gap between unprotected crosswalks and full traffic signals to serve pedestrians. PHBs are useful in locations where traditional crosswalk signings and markings do not result in adequate motorist yielding rates, and where the deployment or cost of a full traffic signal would not be warranted. This includes mid-block crossings or uncontrolled mainline crossing points. This document will show how PHBs are being used to reduce pedestrian crashes across the country, highlight available provisions for implementing PHBs, and describe how PHB installations improved a problematic section of roadway.

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