Urban Planning

HAWK beacon and color deficiency : urbanplanning

Has anyone done any studies on HAWK beacons and drivers who are color deficient? Those who are red-green color deficient can see red and yellow as the same color and so depend upon position to tell the difference. The novel triangular arrangement in HAWK could lead color deficient drivers into thinking all the lights are yellow. There may not be a motivation for such drivers to stop, especially on a multi-lane road with high prevailing speeds and cars behind them.

It seems to me the traditional red-yellow-green linear arrangement would be unambiguous and universally understood. I don’t see any advantage of the “all dark” phase — indeed as many have noted, all-dark means stop (because presumably they are malfunctioning such as in a power outage). The main advantage of HAWK is allowing cars to proceed after the pedestrian has crossed, and a flashing red can be accomplished with the traditional linear arrangement just as easily as in the triangular arrangement. Indeed, as many have noted, the triangular arrangement gives rise to the wig-wag of a railroad crossing, which is supposed to convey “stop immediately or you’ll be killed”. In contrast, for HAWK, the wig-wag means “proceed when clear”.

The Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAWK_beacon mentions the all-dark and the wig-wag inconsistencies, but does not mention anything about the ambiguity presented to color deficient drivers. It’s probably because no one’s studied — or even talked about — it. But wanted to see if anyone here has (so that I can add it to the Wikipedia article and complain to local govt).

Oh, one other question — have any written driving tests or drivers guides been updated to describe HAWK? They usually go through laborious banal descriptions of the traditional traffic signal and not mention HAWK at all, or, like in the Delaware drivers’ guide, mention HAWK and that it has “various stages” but doesn’t list those various stages! https://www.dmv.de.gov/forms/driver_serv_forms/pdfs/dr_frm_manual.pdf

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