Comparison of Above-Sign and Below-Sign Placement of Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons

Several methods have been used to emphasize the presence of a pedestrian crossing, including supplementing signing with beacons. A device that has received national attention is the rectangular rapid-flashing beacon (RRFB). A question being asked is whether the position of the beacons above or below the pedestrian crossing sign influences the effectiveness of the treatment. A closed-course study found that at night RRFBs located above the crossing sign offered advantages compared with LEDs located within or below the sign. To determine if the position of the beacons affected driver yielding, RRFBs were installed above and below the pedestrian crossing sign at 13 sites in four locales. A staged pedestrian protocol was used to collect driver yielding to ensure a consistent presentation of approaching pedestrians. Preliminary findings showed only minor, if any, differences between the above and below positions (average daytime yielding for staged pedestrians was 64% for above and 61% for below), and the statistical test showed no significant difference. The open-road study found that the position of the RRFB did not affect a driver’s decision to yield. With apparent benefits identified from the closed-course study—i.e., lower discomfort and improved ability to detect the pedestrian as measured by identifying the direction a cutout photo of a pedestrian is traveling—and the lack of difference in driver yielding as a result of position, locating the beacons above the warning sign could improve the overall effectiveness of this treatment. As a result of these findings, FHWA plans to issue an official interpretation permitting placement of the beacons above the crossing warning sign.


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  • Accession Number: 01590549
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780309369756
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 16-0792
  • Files: PRP, TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 12 2016 4:29PM