The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a new interim approval for the use of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs). This however is not a reinstatement of the previous interim approval (IA). Several changes have been made to the IA standards, including:
- RRFBs can now be used with Trail crossing warning signs (W11-15), in addition to the Pedestrian crossing (W11-2) and School (S1-1) crossing signs.
- Units are now allowed to be mounted below an overhead-mounted warning sign.
- The wig-wag flashing pattern for RRFBs specified in the original IA has been replaced with a specific flashing pattern: Left-Right-Left-Right-Both-Both. Specific timing for the sequence included in the IA.
- Existing RRFBs should be reprogrammed to meet the new IA specifications, during maintenance or replacement.
- The flashing sequence should restart each time a pedestrian is detected (either passively or with a push button) including when the RRFBs are already flashing or immediately after the RRFBs have ceased flashing.
- Automatic signal dimming devices should be used to reduce glare during nighttime conditions.
Additionally, if speech pushbutton information is used with the RRFB, Accessible Pedestrian Features must now be included:
- A locator tone shall be provided.
- A “Yellow lights are flashing” message shall be spoken twice.
- If a speech pushbutton information message is used, the device shall not use vibrotactile or percussive indications.
The IA, however, is still requiring agencies to inform FHWA of RRFB installations, seek approval, and maintain an inventory of installed units.
In July 2008, FHWA initially approved the use of RRFBs to improve pedestrian safety at mid-block crossings and unsignalized intersections. The original IA was rescinded at the end of last year; this new IA represents a widespread interest in reviving the crossing treatment. DGL Consulting Engineers will continue to keep its clients and partners up-to-date on this and other transportation news.