Tucson adding more pedestrian HAWK lights
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Just walking across the road in Tucson can be a death-defying act. But the City of Tucson is working to give you a fighting chance.
The city's about to turn on another set of signals at Speedway and Arcadia designed to help you make a safe crossing.
To give drivers fair warning, Tucson invented HAWK (High Intensity Activated Crosswalk) lights to stop traffic and give pedestrians a fair chance to cross.
Ollie Branch died last week when a hit and run driver killed him as he tried to cross Alvernon. His family and friends wish there had been a HAWK there to help protect him.
Branch's friend Michael Thomas says, "They should just put up one of those crosswalk lights, there at that intersection."
Now a new HAWK is going in at a different spot. It will help drivers get across six lanes of Speedway at the Arcadia intersection.
Pedestrian Roberto Zarate says, "I feel so much more safe out here on the streets."
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "You you've seen some close calls out here, your self too?
Zarate: "Yeah. Yeah."
But the protection from the lights, and from any crosswalk depends on pedestrians and drivers actually using the protections provided.
TPD Traffic Division Sergeant David Brotherton sees people fail to use crosswalks and lights there for their safety.
"Pedestrians don't take the time to activate the lights and then the second problem we have is that the pedestrians put too much faith in the lights, rather than making sure the vehicle traffic has stopped like it's supposed to they'll go ahead and enter the crosswalk before doing that."
Drivers confused by the lights should understand this: when the lights are yellow, prepare to stop. When they're steady red, stop. When they're flashing red treat them like a stop sign; stop, make sure it's safe to go, then go.
But even though the lights sometimes still confuse drivers and walkers, stats show they have made pedestrians safer. A federal study says pedestrian accidents dropped 86 percent near the lights.
City of Tucson transportation director Jim Glock says traffic, accident rates and school locations affect where the HAWK lights go. The city has 105 now with ten more in the works.
Craig Smith asked him: "At what point would you say, we pretty much have them where we want them and we're done with this project.
Glock: "I think we're nearing that location but as we see development occur in outlying areas and development increases pedestrian activity, I think we'll continue to see that."