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District Department of Transportation

HAWK Signal

A HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) signal, also known as a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, is a traffic signal designed to help pedestrians safely cross busy streets.

While different in appearance for motorists, for the pedestrian, this signal works like other push-button activated traffic signals in the District by stopping traffic with a red signal, allowing pedestrians to cross with a WALK signal. At certain locations, the signal can automatically detect the presence of pedestrians waiting to cross and will activate the signal.

HAWK signals can be installed on streets with regular traffic signals as part of the District’s coordinated signal system.

DDOT plans to install more HAWK signals across the District to improve street crossing safety for pedestrians. 

To learn how a HAWK pedestrian signal works, see DDOT's HAWK Pedestrian Signal Guide or view this YouTube video.

Pedestrian Safety

DDOT places a high priority on pedestrian safety and is focusing efforts on un-signalized crosswalks on high volume roadways. These crossings often do not meet Vision Zero engineering standards for installing a conventional traffic signal; therefore, DDOT uses other treatments.

District law requires motorists to legally stop and give the right of way to pedestrians within crosswalks. However, DDOT's research has shown that on busy, high traffic roadways, only about one in four drivers are willing to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. If appropriate warrants are met, a HAWK signal can be installed on such roadways.

Accessibility for the Disabled

HAWK signals in the District usually feature Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) equipment that provides disabled pedestrians with information about the signal. An audible message and vibrating arrow button announce when the WALK signal is on.

Side Street Traffic

If a side street is present at a HAWK signal, it will continue to be controlled by a stop sign.


If you have any questions about the HAWK signal or any traffic control device in the District, please contact:

Email: DDOT
Phone: (202) 673-6813


To improve street crossing safety for pedestrians.