Posted by on February 4, 2018
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Categories: Bay Area

(by Janis Mara) – Pedestrian hybrid beacons, a type of traffic light said to decrease pedestrian-involved collisions, are now operating on South El Camino Real throughout San Mateo County, police said.

Caltrans has activated the beacons in the county, in one specific case at the intersection of 22nd Avenue and South El Camino Real in San Mateo, according to San Mateo police.

These beacons control traffic at intersections without conventional traffic lights to help pedestrians cross safely, police said.

The beacons lead to a 65 percent decrease in collisions involving pedestrians, according to police.

Like conventional traffic signals, the beacons are suspended over the roadway or appear at the side of the road. They consist of three round signals, two at the top and one at the bottom.

Unlike conventional traffic lights, these signals are dark until a pedestrian presses the button to cross. When that happens, approaching drivers will see a flashing yellow light, then a solid yellow warning them to
slow down and prepare to stop.

The signal then changes to a double solid red, indicating that drivers must stop.

When the signal flashes alternating red lights, all vehicles must come to a complete stop, and then can proceed if there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Just as with a conventional traffic light, under the law, drivers must stop for the solid red and alternating red lights. If drivers don’t stop, they are subject to the same law enforcement and fines as with
conventional lights.

However, with the alternating red lights, if a driver comes to a complete stop and there’s no pedestrian in the crosswalk, it is permissible for the driver to proceed forward, police said.

In other words, the flashing red lights should be treated like a stop sign, according to police.

For questions about the hybrid beacons, members of the public can call Caltrans at (916) 654-2852.