New traffic signal could confuse some drivers (VIDEO)

DDOT has posted instructions for the new HAWK traffic signals. (WTOP/John Aaron)

WASHINGTON — Area drivers have another new signal to keep in mind.

The District Department of Transportation has finished installing its fifth pedestrian High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk, or HAWK. The crosswalks “help pedestrians safely cross high traffic volume streets,” according to DDOT.

The latest is on Connecticut Avenue NW, between Ordway and Macomb streets.

“It’s really the same as any other button-actuated signal in the District for a pedestrian,” says George Branyan, DDOT pedestrian program coordinator. “For drivers it’s a very different thing, and that’s where we need to get the word out.”

Branyan says the overhead traffic signals appear in a sequence unfamiliar to drivers. After a pedestrian presses a button to cross, traffic signals will flash yellow before turning solid yellow. The yellow signals are followed by a solid red. Then, the red lights flash in an alternating “wig wag” pattern, much like a railroad crossing.

During the flashing red signal, drivers are allowed to proceed through the crosswalk after stopping if safe to do so. Since the flashing red signal has been a matter of confusion for drivers, DDOT has placed signs near the crosswalk telling drivers to stop on flashing red, then proceed when clear.

Branyan says drivers are still getting used to the sequence, but adds that it has not caused backups at a pilot location.

Watch the HAWK in action below:


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