Joe Rickman, Southwest district traffic engineer, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) explained the "HAWK" lights are a seven-interval signal.
"Interval one is actually as you are approaching it is dark, and like a standard street signal, if it's dark it's more like a railroad crossing, you just go through it," he
said interval two is the flashing yellow lights, which alerts drivers that the signal is getting ready to activate.
"You get about three or four seconds of advanced warning that you're going to have a stop condition coming up," he
"When the solid yellow displays, it's to be treated just like it would at any signal, slow down and get ready to stop, not speed up like some people like to do."
From solid yellow, Rickman
said the signal will then go to solid red.
"Solid red for the driver is just like it always is, they need to come to a complete stop and wait," he
"Once that solid red is up for about a second or two, the pedestrians will actually get the 'walk' phase for them to start walking."
said pedestrians are then given between seven and ten seconds to get going and be halfway or more across the street.
When the flashing reds stop illuminating, Rickman
said the signal goes back to blank, and it is back to normal operation for driving on the highway.
said the "don't walk" signal will have already displayed for the pedestrians and it is then standard scenario.
Importing the design from Europe, Rickman
instructed the first 'HAWK' light signal was installed in America in 2000 in Tucson, Ariz., and is now popular all over the country.
said studies have shown they are much safer than installing a traditional mid-block signal for pedestrians - for both drivers and for pedestrians.
"We've had really good luck with them nationally, and hopefully if we can eliminate some confusion here in Neosho
we will continue to have good luck there," he
"I know the school likes it, and the kids like it because the traffic actually stops for them now, and they weren't necessarily before because it was just a yellow flash before."
said state law remains clear: "If a pedestrian enters a street in a safe manner, you are to yield to them.
But I don't begin to know that a lot of drivers either know that or follow that rule, but that is the law."
is the location of the only "HAWK" light signal in Southwest Missouri, though the state is looking at putting others in several locations.
revealed that local leaders were the catalyst for getting it here.
"The school and the city contacted us to see about what we could do to improve the situation they had," he
"I think they were kind of interested in a more traditional signal, and we had seen this, had some conferences in-state and out-of-state, had looked at some research on it, and felt like this was a less expensive option that was at least as safe if not safer than the other option for the school."
Page 3 of 3 - After explaining the system to local school officials, Rickman
said everybody was on board to provide the new crosswalk for pedestrians.
reported it was activated on May 18, 2013.
reiterated the confusion seems to stem from motorists not understanding what the blinking red lights mean versus the solid red.
encourages motorists - and pedestrians - to view any of several YouTube videos that explain the "HAWK" system.
Find those at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23IFMa8rAq4; https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=S8An5x4hFjM; and