Cathedral City officials Tuesday announced the installation of two specialized crosswalk signals near Cathedral City High School to improve public safety and reduce pedestrian-involved crashes in the area.

The High-intensity Activated Crosswalk, or HAWK, signals, were installed on Dinah Shore Drive at Via de Anza and Linda Way, according to city spokesman Chris Parman.

According to Parman, the signals are not illuminated until activated by a pedestrian, triggering a flashing yellow light, then a solid yellow light to inform drivers to prepare to stop. The signal then displays a solid red light and a walk signal for pedestrians until a countdown timer begins, at which point the red light begins flashing.

“During the alternating flashing red lights, drivers can proceed after coming to a full stop and checking that pedestrians have already crossed their lane of travel,” Parman said. “Each successive driver is legally required to come to a full stop before proceeding during the alternating flashing red phase.”

The system is expected to make pedestrian crossings safer between Cathedral City High School and the nearby Marketplace Shopping Center, while minimizing unnecessary traffic delays, according to Parman.

“The alternating flashing red phase allows the driver delay to match the actual crossing needs of the pedestrian. Drivers can proceed with a stop-and-go operation during the flashing red phase if a pedestrian walks faster than the assumed walking speed and clears the lanes or roadway, as appropriate,” Parman said. “If pedestrians need more time, then the drivers remain stopped until they finish crossing. The ability to balance the needs of the pedestrians with driver delay is a valuable component of the HAWK treatment.”

While Parman said concerns have been raised about whether drivers will have trouble understanding how to interpret the HAWK signals, similar installations in Tucson, Arizona, showed that proper education, including public campaigns and increased enforcement, have been successful in encouraging appropriate driver and pedestrian behavior at the signals.

Funding for the $398,000 project came from 1988’s Measure A sales tax measure, Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees from new developments and city traffic safety funds.

The HAWK signals are expected to be fully operational on or before Aug. 7, in time for the first day of school, Parman said.

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