Why do some signals have three lights? Learn about the HAWK signal

Why do some signals have three lights? Learn about the HAWK signal



Over the past several years, many intersections throughout the area have been equipped with a HAWK Signal to provide safe crossings for pedestrians. HAWK is an acronym for “High-intensity Activated crossWalK” and most are used for mid-block pedestrian crossings on roads with a high level of traffic. There are two in Beaverton. One is on Farmington near 139th Avenue (in front of TVF & R Station 67) and the other is on Hall near Greenway. When approaching a HAWK signal, a driver will see one of five lighting configurations: all off, flashing yellow, solid yellow, solid red, or flashing red. Most drivers will respond appropriately when any these lighting configurations are presented alone. However, if you routinely travel through an area with a HAWK signal, you may have noticed some drivers who are unsure of how to proceed.

When the HAWK Signal is not activated, the lights will be dark and traffic may proceed through as normal. When a pedestrian pushes the “Walk” button to cross the street, a flashing yellow will appear on the HAWK Signal. The flashing yellow, per ORS 811.260 (Appropriate Driver Responses to Traffic Control Device), allows a driver to proceed through the intersection with caution. After a few seconds, the flashing yellow will turn to a solid yellow. Oregon law warns a driver facing a steady yellow light their “right of way is being terminated and that a red or flashing red light will be shown immediately.” Additionally, “a driver facing the [yellow] light shall stop at a clearly marked stop line…” (Emphasis added.) After the solid yellow phase, two solid red lights will illuminate. This requires all drivers to stop and remain stopped until the final lighting phase. In the final lighting phase, the solid red lights will begin to alternately flash red. A driver facing a flashing red light must come to a complete stop, but may proceed through the intersection once it is safe to do so. Once the flashing red cycle completes, the HAWK Signal return to its un-activated state.

In summary, when the light flashes yellow, a driver may cautiously proceed through the intersection. When the light changes to solid yellow, it notifies the approaching driver of the impending change to red and the driver shall come to a stop. When the light is solid red, the driver must remain stopped. When the light cycles to flashing red, the stopped driver may proceed through the intersection, provided it is safe to do so. Any approaching driver must also stop at the flashing red light and may only proceed if it is safe to do so.


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