Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons increase safety at crosswalks.
Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons — also known as RRFBs — are simple. They’re also effective. Pushing the button activates flashing lights, which direct drivers’ attention to pedestrians using crosswalks.
If you haven’t seen it, check out the RRFBs near the MARTA Station on 10th Street. It works!
Benefits and costs
Compared to the costs, the benefits of RRFBs are tremendous. A pair — one for each direction of traffic — costs less than $25,000, which is far less than a traditional traffic signal.
With these in place, the share of drivers who stop for pedestrians in crosswalks quadruples. One study found RRFBs improved yield rates from 20 percent at crosswalks to over 80 percent. On four-lane roads with speed limits of 30 mph or less, a pair of RRFBs can be used in combination with in-street crosswalk signs. At locations with median refuge islands, using two pairs of RRFBs can make them even more effective.
RRFBs have been especially effective at night, a time when marked crosswalks and signs are harder to see. On their own, marked crosswalks lose three-fourths of their effectiveness at night. In contrast, over 99 percent of drivers stopped for pedestrians at locations with four beacon RRFBs.
The before and after slides below show how RRFBs can transform a crossing.
On their own, marked crosswalks are unsafe on roads with over three lanes and more than 12,000 cars a day. At locations like these, transportation engineers are unlikely to install crosswalks without other safety treatments.
RRFBs aren’t appropriate everywhere, but on urban roads near schools, parks, transit stations or other activity centers, these can be a terrific safety improvement.
Knowing what to ask for is an important step forward. If you walk in areas where few drivers stop for people using crosswalks, ask City officials to consider installing RRFBs.