Comparison of Reactangular and Circular Rapid-Flashing Beacons in an Open-Road Setting Academic Article uri icon


  • Several methods, including one that supplements signage with beacons or embedded LEDs, have been used to emphasize the presence of a pedestrian crossing. A device that has received national attention is the rectangular rapid-flashing beacon (RRFB). A question that is being asked about the device is whether the beacons need to be rectangular. Could they be circular? For a comparison of the two devices, RRFBs and circular rapid-flashing beacons (CRFBs) were installed at 12 sites in four cities (i.e., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Flagstaff, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and College Station, Texas). CRFBs were installed initially at half of the sites, while RRFBs were installed at the other half. The same flash pattern was used in all cases, regardless of beacon shape. A staged pedestrian protocol was used to collect driver yielding data to ensure that oncoming drivers received a consistent presentation of approaching pedestrians. The preliminary findings showed only minor, if any, differences between the CRFB and the RRFB (i.e., average daytime yielding rate with CRFB was 63%; it was 59% with RRFB). The results from the generalized linear mixed model indicated no significant differences between the two beacon shapes ( p-value = .4717). For a subset of the sites, the luminous intensity (also called brightness) of the beacons was measured. There was evidence of an increasing yielding rate with increasing intensity at night. In conclusion, the shape of the yellow rapid-flashing beacon did not have an impact on whether a driver decided to yield to waiting pedestrians.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Fitzpatrick, K., Potts, I. B., Brewer, M. A., & Avelar, R.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Fitzpatrick, Kay||Potts, Ingrid B||Brewer, Marcus A||Avelar, Raul

publication date

  • January 2015