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Next-generation traffic signal coming to Providence

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will be installing a new type of traffic signal next week that has been proven to increase pedestrian safety when crossing the street. The new signal is known as a “HAWK” signal, an acronym that stands for High-Intensity Activated CrossWalK.

The HAWK signal will be installed at the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Daboll Street in Providence, the first of its kind in Rhode Island and in New England. HAWK signals were developed by the City of Tucson, Arizona in 2004. They have since been installed by many other states and in Washington, D.C.

“The Department is excited to bring proven technology to Rhode Island to enhance pedestrian safety,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said.

Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of motorists properly yield to pedestrians in crosswalks using HAWK signal. The HAWK signal at Elmwood Avenue and Daboll Street is replacing a conventional traffic signal for vehicles and pedestrians. It will be more effective at increasing motorist awareness of pedestrians in the crosswalk.

When not in use, the HAWK traffic signal is dark to motorists, and a solid orange raised hand indicating “Don’t Walk” is displayed for pedestrians. When a pedestrian pushes the crosswalk button, motorists see a flashing yellow signal for several seconds. After the flashing yellow interval, the traffic signal displays a solid yellow – much like a conventional traffic signal – alerting motorists to get ready to stop.

Much like traditional traffic signals, the walking person symbol soon changes to a flashing orange hand with a countdown display showing the number of seconds left to cross the street. As with all pedestrian crossing signals, pedestrians should not start crossing the street if the flashing orange hand and countdown timer is showing. During this time, drivers see alternating flashing red signals, like at a railroad crossing signal. When the flashing red is displayed, drivers may proceed after stopping if there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk.

The cycle ends with the flashing red signals going dark and the solid orange raised hand shown to pedestrians until the next pedestrian pushes the button.

More information about HAWK signals, including a brochure, step-by-step directions, and animated graphics and videos showing these signals in operation in other states, is available at

Those with questions can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additional information will be available on RIDOT’s website ( and its social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger.

Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Transportation
  • Online:
  • Release date: 06-20-2011

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