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HAWK Signal

A HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) signal, also known as a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, is a signal beacon 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. The most recent HAWK was installed at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Emerson Street NW in Ward 4. See press release.

YouTube - View DDOT's Pedestrian Coordinator explain how a HAWK pedestrian signal works. 

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 the following:

District Department of Transportation
55 M Street, SE, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20003

Email: DDOT
Phone: (202) 673-6813

Transportation TV’s News In Design for July 2013: The HAWK Crosswalk

In the July edition of News in Design takes a look at the HAWK or High-Intensity Activated crossWalk. A growing number of transportation departments are installing HAWK—including DDOT. George Branyan, pedestrian program coordinator for DDOT explains how the HAWK works and why it's being deployed in the Nation's Capital. Also in this edition learn about a Federal Highway Administration Study which examined how well HAWK works to prevent car and pedestrian collisions. Watch the video at Transportation TV.


To improve street crossing safety for pedestrians.