Merriam adding two more pedestrian-friendly HAWK signals

HAWK signals
Merriam is adding two more HAWK signals, just like this one on Antioch Road at 61st Street.

Merriam is installing two more pedestrian-friendly HAWK signals.

HAWK signals are nontraditional traffic lights designed to give pedestrians more safety when crossing streets with heavy traffic. Merriam already has two HAWK pedestrian signals on Antioch Road at 61st Street and on 67th Street at Knox Street.

“Drivers tend to be more aware of pedestrians when HAWK lights are used because the flashing lights make it more visible to motorists,” said Kevin Bruemmer, Merriam public works director.

Merriam will place the new HAWK signals at Goodman Street and Johnson Drive and at Mastin Street and Johnson Drive by the end of this year, replacing the current traffic signals.

While slightly different in appearance this signal functions very similarly to a conventional pedestrian signal in that it stops traffic to allow pedestrians to cross safely. The new HAWK signals include a red light, and early studies have shown up to 97 percent motorist compliance, according to the city’s website.

HAWK is an acronym for High-intensity Activated CrossWalK. A HAWK signal remains dark for traffic until a pedestrian pushes the crosswalk button. After a pedestrian presses the button, approaching drivers will see a flashing yellow signal for a few seconds, indicating that they should slow down and prepare to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

A solid yellow signal follows the flashing yellow signal, and then the solid yellow signal turns red, requiring drivers to stop at the stop line. Pedestrians then see a “walk” signal and countdown timer light up, accompanied by an audible signal for those who are visually impaired pedestrians.

At the end of the countdown, pedestrians will see a flashing “don’t walk” signal, and drivers will see an alternating flashing red signal. Drivers should stop or remain stopped until pedestrians have finished crossing the street.