Tag Archives: RRFB

Rapid Flashing Beacons related posts and articles from ELTEC

“TIGERS” Made Safer with HAWK Crosswalk

Frenship High School in Wolfforth, TX installed a solar powered HAWK/hybrid pedestrian crosswalk. Early one morning before dawn a student using the un-signalized crosswalk from the parking lot across from the school was struck and killed by a truck. The school principle, city manager, and other city officials along with the local TxDOT district worked together to find a solution.

Since the pedestrian crossing is on a 5-lane (including a turn lane) state road (45 MPH), TxDOT determined a Hybrid Pedestrian Crosswalk to control traffic was the best solution, and was responsible for the installation. After weighing several factors, solar power was determined to be the best option to operate the system using a DC controller (Mikros EIC). The cost was considerably less by not using the electrical service or running traffic signal cable, and other combined factors saved approximately 2–3 weeks of construction time. The solar sizing report determined that two hybrid beacons faces (6 LEDs total) plus a pedestrian head and the DC controller with a built-in conflict monitor would be fully supported with one 140-watt solar panel and two 110 amp-hour batteries.

Wolfforth officials implemented a community educational campaign using local media outlets that a new crosswalk had been added and to inform motorists how to interpret the signals. Additionally, the principal initiated training with the students: teaching them how the system worked and how to use it correctly. During designated school periods and high traffic times, a Resource Officer is assigned to monitor the students to safeguard that they aren’t “trying to beat the pedestrian countdown timer.” The Resource Officer also ensures drivers are obeying the signals as well.

The public response has been “great.” There’s an understanding that vehicles and pedestrians both share the highway, and that pedestrians have the right-of-way when the lights are activated. The school principle adds “the students certainly appreciate the added safety feature, and have been trained very well to activate the system and wait. Sometimes teenagers are looked at as not listening, but when it comes to safety they are taking the proper steps.”

New RRFB WW+S Flash Pattern (IMSA Jan/Feb ’15)

By Susan Marshall Electrotechnics Corporation (ELTEC)


On July 25, 2014 the FHWA approved a “new and improved” flash pattern for RRFB (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons) uncon-trolled pedestrian crossings. The new flash pattern is based on a flash cycle length of 800 milliseconds (ms) equaling 75 flash cycles per minute. It’s referenced as “WW+S” (Wig-Wag plus Simultaneous). The sequence is:

  • Left beacon ON 50 ms Both beacons OFF 50 ms
  • Right beacon ON 50 ms Both beacons OFF 50 ms
  • Left beacon ON 50 ms Both beacons OFF 50 ms
  • Right beacon ON 50 ms Both beacons OFF 50 ms
  • Both beacons ON 50 ms Both beacons OFF 50 ms
  • Both beacons ON 50 ms Both beacons OFF 250 ms

The interpretation was issued after the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) tested several flash patterns for their effectiveness. Two patterns were found to be equally effective, but to keep some “uniformity” the “simpler” WW+S flash sequence was approved. Additionally, the WW+S was chosen “because it has a greater percentage of dark time when both beacons of the RRFB are off and because the beacons are on for less total time.”

The FHWA continued “The greater percentage of dark time is important because this will make it easier for drivers to read the sign and to see the waiting pedestrian, especially under nighttime conditions.”

Any newly installed RRFB pedestrian crossings may use either the currently approved flash pattern (2/4-1) or the WW+S. Existing RRFB systems may continue to use the installed flash pattern, or can be converted to the WW+S flash pattern.

For more information on the published TTI study go to: TTI Website. Clarification of interpretations can be found here at MUTCD link.

RRFB Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons installed in Mission KS

Long Construction Project Comes to an End

RRFB Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons installed in Mission KS

Mission’s Johnson Drive opens all four lanes of traffic as long construction project comes to an end.

ELTEC Corp has added safety measures to Mission, KS Johnson Drive. By installing Eltec’s  RRFB (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons) crosswalk safety features the four lane highway will notify drivers of potential pedestrians crossing. The RRFB is a rectangular shaped, high intensity signal head, which flashes in a wig-wag, rapid flickering pattern. The alternating signals provide direct, ultra-bright concentration as well as wide-angle intensity. The beacons are pedestrian activated: push button or passive detection (several options available).

It’s open again. Johnson Drive through downtown Mission was back to four lanes of traffic this morning and most of the construction cones have disappeared.

With the temperature hovering below 20 degrees this morning, only the marching band was missing from the city’s barricade breaking celebration. The speeches were brief and the coffee plentiful as dozens gathered to mark the official end of construction and the opening of all four lanes of Johnson Drive to traffic for the first time since early March. The impact of construction really started in the summer of 2013 when utilities were being replaced under the street, a project that lasted until December. Storm sewers were replaced as part of the road construction this year. Traffic often was blocked on the side streets and even Johnson Drive was closed in places during the construction. Traffic flow was cut to two lanes all summer.

To read more about Mission’s Johnson Drive construction project click here.

To learn more about the safety features that we can provide to your town please contact us or fill out a product request form. For almost 50 years ELTEC been a world-class manufacturer of time clocks/time switches used primarily in school zone flashing beacon systems. ELTEC is the preferred traffic industry supplier of warning systems and products for many municipalities, state Departments of Transportation and local contractors.

RRFB New Flash Pattern

of Transportation
Federal Highway

JUl 2 5 2014

1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, D.C. 20590
In Reply Refer To: HOT0-1

Mr. Bill Marshall
Electrotechnics Corporation
1310 Commerce Street
Marshall, Texas 75672

Dear Mr. Marshall:

Thank you for your e-mail message of July 9 requesting an official interpretation as to whether the simpler flash patterns for rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) that recently were successfully tested could be made available for use.

You were prompted to request this official interpretation by the announcement that we placed in a “yellow box” at the top of the home page of the MUTCD web site on June 20, 2014. This announcement stated the following:
Federally-funded research was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTl) regarding the effectiveness of various flash patterns for RRFBs. The initial experimentation with RR.FBs that led to the eventual interim approval for this device only tested one relatively complex flash pattern. Before proposing to add this new device to the MUTCD, the FHWA was interested in finding out if a simpler flash pattern that included more dark time would be equally or more effective at getting motorists to stop for pedestrians at uncontrolled crossings. The TTl research showed that two different simpler flash patterns were just as effective as the currently-approved pattern. An overview of the study and an executive summary that provides the detailed results are available on the TTl web site.
The overview of the study, which was funded by the FHWA and published by TTl, can be accessed at http://tti.tamu. edu/2014/06/18/new-rapid-flash-beacon/ and the executive summary concerning this federally-funded research can be accessed at http://d2dtl5nnlpfr0r.cloudfront.net/tti.tamu.edu/documents/TTI-2014-5.pdf.

Because of a desire to achieve uniformity, the FHWA is not interested in approving both of the additional RRFB flash patterns for eventual use, even though both were found to be equally as effective as the RRFB flash pattern that is currently specified in the Interim Approval 11 memorandum and clarified in Interpretations 4(09)-21 and 4(09)-22, all of which can be accessed at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/res-interim approvals.htrn.

The two additional RRFB flash patterns are called “Blocks” and “WW+S” in the research study. After comparing the two additional flash patterns, the FHWA favors the WW+S (wig-wag plus simultaneous) flash pattern because it has a greater percentage of dark time when both beacons
of the RR.FB are off and because the beacons are on for less total time. The greater percentage of dark time is important because this will make it easier for drivers to read the sign and to see the waiting pedestrian, especially under nighttime conditions. The less total on time will make the RRFB more energy efficient, which is important since they are usually powered by solar energy.

The WW+S flash pattern is based on a flash cycle length of 800 milliseconds, which results in 75 flash cycles per minute. The 800-millisecond flash cycle shall have the following sequence:

The left side beacon is on for 50 milliseconds
Both beacons are off for 50 milliseconds

The right side beacon is on for 50 milliseconds
Both beacons are off for 50 milliseconds

The left side beacon is on for 50 milliseconds
Both beacons are off for 50 milliseconds

The right side beacon is on for 50 milliseconds
Both beacons are off for 50 milliseconds

Both beacons are on for 50 milliseconds·
Both beacons are off for 50 milliseconds

Both beacons are on for 50 milliseconds
Both beacons are off for 250 milliseconds

It is the FHWA’s official interpretation that any new RRFBs that are installed under the terms of Interim Approval 11 may use either the currently-approved flash pattern or the WW+S flash pattern. Existing RRFBs may continue to use the currently-approved flash pattern or may be converted to the WW+S flash pattern.

For recordkeeping purposes, we have assigned the following official ruling number and title: “4(09)-41 (I)- Additional Flash Pattern for RRFBs.” Please refer to this number and title in any future correspondence regarding this topic.

Thank you for your interest in improving the clarity of the provisions contained in the MUTCD.

Sincerely yours,

Mark R. Kehrli
Director, Office of Transportation

Municipal Magazine Pedestrian Safety Feb ’14

New pedestrian, bike safety devices

By PHOEBE MUTHART | The Municipal
Download Article Here

Pedestrians who are crossing busy streets are often busy doing something else: listening to music, texting or talking on a phone. Those distracted walkers often fail to look both ways for traffic or follow other safety rules.

A study conducted during the summer in Seattle, Wash., may be the largest one yet to look at real-world pedestrians in this age of distraction. It found that more than 26 percent of the 1,000-plus walkers were using electronic devices as they navigated intersections where pedestrians had been hit in the past.


Louisville, Ky., installed a color pavement marking system on a number of bike lanes. (Photo courtesy of Transpo Industries)

Texters were nearly four times less likely than other pedestrians to follow safety rules, including looking both ways, staying in the cross-walk and obeying signals; and both texters and talkers took extra time to cross the street. Music-listeners walked faster but often failed to look for cars, according to researchers from the University of Wash-ington and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The findings could help explain why pedestrian deaths are increas-ing nationwide even as other traffic-related deaths hit historic lows.

Walkers who text, just like drivers who text, may be most at risk, according to one of the researchers, Beth Ebel.

“Texting is pulling you out of where you are and putting your mind somewhere else. You’re on autopilot and that puts you on risk,” Ebel said.

During the study observed pedestrian behavior was generally in line with that collected by other researchers, including some who test pedestrian behavior in lab simulations.

“We are finding very clearly that it’s dangerous to be distracted when you cross the street,” said David Schwebel, a professor of psychology who runs a pedestrian behavior lab at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

In some of Schwebel’s experiments, people listening to music were more likely to be hit by virtual cars than those who were texting. He speculated that hearing cars may be at least as important as seeing them.

But Schwebel added that scientists also looked at talking on the phone, browsing the Internet, listening to music and talking to some-one next to you: All increased the risk for pedestrian injury.

Unpublished data from emergency room records shows injuries among pedestrians using cellphones increased steadily from 2005 to 2010, said Jack Nasar, a researcher at Ohio State University.

Some communities have considered fining distracted walkers. Schwebel said it may take that to change behavior.

Nasar favors taking steps such as posting “Put down your cellphone” signs at crosswalks and educating the public. “Parents should tell their children to put down their cellphones while walking,” he said.

RIGHT: Passive detection devices are a trend in pedestrian crossings designed to address the increased lack of attention that pedes-trians pay to nearby traffic. (Photo courtesy of Electrotechnics Corp.)

Passive detection devices are a trend in pedestrian crossings designed to address the increased lack of attention that pedes-trians pay to nearby traffic. (Photo courtesy of Electrotechnics Corp.)

This pedestrian verification signal is acti-vated by a push button. (Photo courtesy of Electrotechnics Corp.)

This pedestrian verification signal is acti-vated by a push button. (Photo courtesy of Electrotechnics Corp.)

Today’s technology provides additional solutions to the problem. New pedestrian crossing instruments include rectangular rapid flashing beacons, which have resulted in over 80 percent compliance. In some areas that level of compliance reached 98 percent, according to a study conducted by Electrotechnics Corp. of Marshall, Texas.

St. Petersburg, Fla., was one of the first cities to try the new approach. A study conducted at a crosswalk in St. Petersburg reported an injury rate of 49 people per 100,000 people before RRFB was installed. After, motorists’ compliance increased to an average of 82 percent.

“New RRFB technology is an affordable solution for rapidly increas-ing pedestrian safety and stimulating motorist compliance,” said Electrotechnics Corp. President Bill Marshall.

Certainly, RRFB are attention getters. The use of an optional indica-tor for pedestrians allows the pedestrian to see that the beacons are operating. Typical cost of material for a solar-powered operating. Typical cost of material for a solar-powered RRFB system consisting of two poles and signs is under $10,000.

“Texters and talkers took extra time to cross the street. Music-listeners walked faster but often failed to look for cars”

Color pavement marking is another effective bicycle and pedes-trian safety initiative. It can also be used for bus lanes, stops and other specifically designated areas.

“Color pavement marking increases safety by minimizing conflict between different road users. By making these special use lanes or areas — such as bicycle paths, crosswalks, pedestrian plazas and bus lanes — clearly marked with durable, highly visible color, the lanes are safer,” said Karen Dinitz, marketing and com-munications director for Transpo Indus-tries Inc. Materials for high friction surfacing and bridge overlays both increase preservation and sustainability as well as safety. Paint and other materials fade or delaminate, requiring regular maintenance. Long-lasting color makes maintaining safety features easier. Transpo also offers light pole and sign post breakaway sup-ports that are the standard for roadside safety.

“Great Debaters” College and Marshall Hospital (ISMA May-June’12)

Marshall Installs DC RRFB’s

Acr673269359556053881Wiley College became famous in the December 2007 movie “The Great Debaters” starring Denzel Washington. Located in Marshall, TX the growing student body of 1,200 will soon have a new bed dorm. The residential hall is located approximately 100 yards from two major streets that dissect the campus. Located at the one end of the streets, University Avenue, is a major industrial company. Students yield to cars, but “there have been a lot of close calls” according to J.C Hughes, Marshall’s Public Works Director. “It’s a matter of when, not if”.

During the December school break, a solar powered Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) system designed and manufactured by ELTEC was install on University Avenue. A 60′ wide “crossing area” was created with the RRFB installation. Two remote push buttons allow activation on either the east or west ends.

ELTEC sizes each solar powered (DC) pedestrian crossing based on estimated usage. Since the installation the students are much less prone to jay-walk using the “crossing area”. J.C. estimates between 600-750 daily activations.

A few miles from Wiley College is Good Shephard Medical Center. Last fall an employee using the unsignalized painted crosswalk from the parking lot to the hospital was seriously injured. The nurse trusted the car would yield. According to J.C. Hughes, the average speed is 45 MPH with a posted speed of 30 MPH.

After the near fatal accident, the City of Marshall installed ELTEC’s solar powered RRFB system supplemented with advanced warning signs. For additional safety, the night lightning was improved with the street light wattage increased from 150 to 450.

According to J.C., since the RRFB installation, the average car speed has dropped to 10 MPH.

For more information or a quotation, contact ELTEC at 800-277-1734/sales@elteccorp.com or peruse www.elteccorp.com. Or contact your local ELTEC dealer.

Oregon Coast Increases Pedestrian Safety with RRFB’s (IMSA Nov-Dec ’10)

Oregon Coast Increases Pedestrian Safety with RRFB’s

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Lewis and Clark were emotion-ally challenged when they camped on Oregon’s coast. Their journal indicated months of gloomy, wet weather with sunny days few and far between. ELTEC’s RRFB.

(Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon) system has improved pedestrian safety for some of Oregon’s residents, especially during stormy weather.

The City of Astoria, Oregon, located on the northern coast-line, had installed ELTEC’s RRFB. David Neys, District Manager of ODOT, says he sees it “in action a lot” since residents come down the hill to access the River Trail. The solar powered RRFB system “works great”. It was sized by ELTEC using a sophisticated solar sizing program ensuring the LED’s never dim. Prior to installation, there had been several “close calls” with pedestrians. David reports it’s “very effective” especially when conditions are gray/misty or dark/rainy.

The City of Florence, located on the central Oregon coast, installed ELTEC’s RFFB sys-tem after a teenager was struck and killed during the daytime while walking his bike across the crosswalk.

There are three schools in the area, with the majority of high school kids using it. Mike miller, Director of Pub-lic Works, says, “It works well and is well received.” The citizens are very appreciative.

Florence also added an island and ADA ramps. A single solar panel supports all four RRFB’s which are hard wired to the median assembly.

For more information con-tact ELTEC at sales@elteccorp.com, 800-227-1734 or visit ELTEC’s website at www.ELTECCORP.com.




Not All RRFB Signals Are Created Equal (The Municipal Oct’12)

Not All RRFB Signals Are Created Equal

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Acr673269359556026357Rectangular rapid flashing beacons approved by the Federal Highway Administration for uncontrolled pedestrian crossings are a hot product within the traffic industry. In January of this year, the FHWA clarified that the LED indications in RRFBs must meet the SAE J595 Class 1 light intensity of 200 candela. A compliant RRFB indication can no longer “meet the minimum specifications of Society of Automotive Engineers standard J595” as originally stated in the July 16, 2008 memo. What does that really mean?

There are three classes under SAE J595: Class 3 is certified at 20 cds and used for identification only on vehicles such as forklifts, people carts in airports, etc. Class 2 is certified at 50 cds and used primarily with maintenance or service vehicles. Class 1 is certified at 200 cds and is used by police, fire and ambulance vehicles.

A candela is the rating of light output at the source. In simple terms, one candle at one foot = a candela. In comparison, a Class 3 indication is only visible for approximately 50 feet in daylight where a Class 1 indication is visible up to 1,000 feet and up to 1 mile at night.

Technology improves LED light output. (Photo provided)

Technology improves LED light output. (Photo provided)

The Class 1 light intensity contributes to the effectiveness of motorists to yield to pedestrians, at high 80 percent and close to 100 percent, compared to standard flashing beacons of 15 percent to 20 percent.

Does size of the LED indication matter? The July 2008 FHWA memo specified “each RRFB indication shall be a minimum of approximately 5 inches wide by approximately 2 inches high.” The fact is that the surface area of the indication does not determine the level of brightness. The light output of the LED and photometric qualities of the reflector and lens determines how many LEDs must be used to provide the required Class 1 light level. Even if a signal contains numerous LEDs, it still may not have the 200 cd intensity required by the FHWA. Why is that?

There are several types of LEDs used in the manufacturing of the indications, and technology continues to improve the quality. For example, one Luxeon style of diode, developed in 2000, has the same light intensity as 18 5mm diodes developed in the 1980s. Six Luxeon diodes housed in a RRFB indication produces approximately the same light intensity as 104 55mm diodes!

There are inherent losses with any LED fixture design. All light produced by the LED must be controlled to optimize efficiency. LED fixture output values can vary dramatically. As light travels through the lens, reflection and refraction may cause loss of intensity. Lens clarity and material used affect the visible light.

Other factors affect the light intensity. In addition to the type of diode, the reflector used to distribute light affects signal intensity. The style of the reflector in combination with the diode in the RRFB indication determines how the light is spread.

Knowing how the light is dispersed may be beneficial with some installation settings as in hospitals, neighborhoods, etc. There are two types of designs that dispense light: focused and wide angle. Light emitted in a “cone” shape is fairly focused. The light widens with distance. A linear design gives a wider angle of light. You lose some of the direct light intensity because of the light spread. Both types are classified in the Class 1 features.

All these factors coming together create the overall photometric qualities of the indication: the LED, reflector, and lens and refractor system. The efficiency of the diode and engineering of the indication design determines the quality and intensity of the light emitted. To confirm if RRFB indications meet the FHWA Class 1 requirement, request a copy of a lab certificate.

The bottom line, as outlined in the original FHWA memo, is that the “data clearly documents very successful and impressive positive experience with the RRFBs at crosswalks …”

Submitted by Susan Marshall, Electrotechnics Corporation and Mike Grenert, Whelen Engineering, contributing author.