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Division of Motor Vehicles

Senior Driving

Your Driving :: Driving Tips

HAWK stands for High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk. One problem for engineers has been the safety of pedestrians who cross the road at "uncontrolled" locations, those with-out traffic signals or stop signs in-stalled. Some research has even shown that just installing striped crosswalks on high-volume, high-speed roadways may even decrease safety for pedestrians who cross. The HAWK signal is the latest tool that will be utilized in Delaware to combat this problem.

HAWK signals were developed by the City of Tucson, Arizona to give a safer alternative for those crossing streets in school zones. The signals were such a success that there are now nearly 100 HAWK signals throughout Tucson. They have also been used in other jurisdictions throughout the United States.

The first location in Delaware will be at Route 72 and Farm/Webb Lane, which serves the University of Delaware Agricultural College. The signal will be installed by fall 2010 and will allow students and staff to more safely cross the road. If successful, we will consider its use at other appropriate locations through-out the state in the future.

Questions and Answers

  • How does the HAWK Signal work? When a pedestrian approaches a crosswalk that is equipped with a HAWK signal, they will press a button, much like they do at a regular crosswalk, which will activate the signal. Once it is activated, the signal will go through a series of stages that will stop traffic long enough for pedestrians to safely cross the roadway. Traffic will then be allowed to proceed and the signal will reset itself until activated again.

    How The HAWK Signal Works

    What You See What You Do
    Drivers: Proceed through the Signal

    Pedestrians: Press button to Cross
    Drivers: Signal has been Activated

    Pedestrians: Wait to Cross
    Drivers: Prepare to Stop

    Pedestrians: Continue Waiting to Cross
    Drivers: Stop and Remain Stopped

    Pedestrians: Cross the Roadway with Caution
    Drivers: Continue with Caution after Coming to a Complete Stop

    Pedestrians: Already Crossing - Continue Not Yet Crossing - Don't Start

  • Is the HAWK signal like a regular traffic light? No, the HAWK signal is only activated when a pedestrian presses the button. When it is not activated by a pedestrian, the signal is dark and traffic can move across the road freely.
  • Why don't you just install a normal traffic signal? The HAWK is installed at locations that don't meet the criteria for a normal traffic signal. The HAWK provides a better message to drivers (solid red = STOP!) to allow pedestrians to safely cross than normal signs or flashing yellow beacons, but disrupts traffic less than a normal signal.