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New pedestrian signal for midblock crosswalks

Pedestrians in California may soon be crossing at midblock crosswalks that have a new mechanism called the HAWK. This is short for the High Intensity Activated CrossWalK, and it is also known as the pedestrian hybrid beacon. It has been shown to reduce pedestrian actions by as much as 69 percent and total motor vehicle crashes by up to 29 percent.

Midblock crashes tend to significantly contribute to pedestrian fatalities due to the speed of cars. When vehicles that are traveling at speeds of 40 mph or more hit pedestrians, over 80 percent of those victims die. However, these types of areas may not have so many pedestrians that a full crosswalk is required. Therefore, the HAWK is a good compromise that increases safety for both pedestrians and drivers.

The device is activated by the pedestrian who pushes a button. After a series of yellow flashing lights followed by a steady yellow light, the motorist gets a red light and the pedestrian gets a walk sign. A flashing orange hand informs the pedestrian when the walk signal is about to come to an end. While the pedestrian hybrid beacon will require some education and raising of awareness for both motorists and pedestrians, it may also save a significant number of lives.

Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries in an accident even if they are using a crosswalk. The injuries may in many cases be life-changing. Insurance companies may not pay a sufficient amount of money toward the injured pedestrian's expenses. If this is the case, the pedestrian may want to seek legal advice. It may be possible to file a lawsuit against the driver or other responsible parties. For example, if the pedestrian is hit by a driver doing deliveries for work, that company may bear some responsibility.

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