Eight months after new high-tech traffic signals were installed in Quincy Center, there have been no pedestrian accidents. That’s a significant achievement, considering that there were 88 accidents involving pedestrians in this area between 2004 and 2013. Of those accidents, 58 resulted in injury and one pedestrian was killed. Despite this success, not everyone loves the new, odd-looking traffic signals.
How to Read the New Signals
The new signals in Quincy Center are known as “high-intensity activated crosswalks”. They are more conveniently referred to as HAWK beacons. Unfortunately, some people find the strange new lights more confusing than helpful. Below are some tips to help you safely navigate HAWK beacon signals when you come across them.
- Drive through normally if no lights are on.
- A steady or blinking yellow light means that, while vehicles still have the right-of-way, the light will soon turn red.
- When both lights are on, the signal should be treated as a red light. Even if no one is using the crosswalk, you must still stop and wait.
- You should treat the signal like a train crossing when the two red lights are blinking alternatively. Stop, check for people in the crosswalk, then proceed when it is safe to do so.
As you can see from the above instructions, HAWK beacons are not as straightforward as standard traffic signals, at least not until we get used to them. But it’s hard to argue with the fact that since their installation, there have been zero pedestrian accidents in what was once considered one of the most dangerous intersections in all of Massachusetts. According to Chris Walker, a spokesman for the city’s Mayor Thomas Koch, the new signals are helping drivers and pedestrians alike use the busy intersections in a safer, more responsible manner.
“You can see the benefit of the dedicated signal,” he said. “It’s slowing traffic down through the area.” In addition to the complete absence of pedestrian accidents in the area, there has been a significant drop in motor vehicle accidents since the installation of the signals. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been involved in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.
Not Everyone’s Feeling the Love
So, why doesn’t everyone love the HAWK beacons in Quincy Center? Shanayta Carmody would prefer that the city bring back signs instructing vehicles and pedestrians on how to safely deal with the crosswalk. ”It’s very confusing and chaotic since they put this new crosswalk in,” said Carmody. And the new signals may impede the flow of traffic. An observation of the intersection during busy traffic hours revealed backed up traffic from Hancock all the way to the Granite Street intersection. In one instance, cars blocked a crosswalk instead of leaving space for pedestrians. According to Rob Keyworth, who uses the crosswalk on his daily commute to Boston, people don’t know what to do with the new lights. “Nobody has ever seen a setup like that,” he said. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim following a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.
Quincy Center isn’t the only area in MA to install HAWK beacons. Several towns across the state have installed similar systems. The federal government considers the HAWK systems to be a “proven safety countermeasure,” and recommends their installation in busy pedestrian crossings. The design, which was developed in the 1990s in Tucson, resulted in a 69 percent decrease in pedestrian accidents following their installation in that city. Continue reading