Will more HAWK signals be put up around Southern Nevada?
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - With so much talk of pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas, we're all looking for solutions. There's a new solution to one busy intersection in the Valley and it has some asking if this is the key to preventing more tragedy.
It's obviously not possible to put a stoplight at every single intersection but what if there was something that would really get the attention of drivers as people cross the street?
"There's been car accidents around here," said Yvone Sema.
"It's a very dangerous street I've been here 12 years I know," said Nasir Kosa, who owns Value Market.
Nasir says a lot of his customers live nearby and walk over. Everyday Nasir says he's gotten used to hearing the sound of drivers slamming on their brakes.
"You hear the tires all day long," said Nasir.
People who walk in the area say crossing Sahara at 15th Street is no easy task.
"It would be really, really busy so it would take forever to try and cross the street," said Kathleen Garcia.
The crosswalks are so spread out that many pedestrians like Yvone Serna admit they resort to something that could result in a ticket, jaywalking.
That was then and now a new tool has been added to the intersection and it's the first in the state. It's called HAWK or High Intensity Activated Crosswalk. Unlike other traffic signals this one lights up only when you push the button.
"I'm glad we have this light it more safe for us," said Manuela.
A steady red mean s drivers stop and pedestrians go. Once the signal starts flashing red, drivers must yield to pedestrians but can drive through the crosswalk. The City says it's a concept that's catching on since it first went up in March.
"As far as compliance goes for vehicles we've seen phenomenal compliance they're stopping when they should be even a little longer than they should be," explained Niel Rohleder, from the City of Las Vegas.
Funding for the $85,000 signal came from a federal grant as part of the Sahara Express project. This technology is new for Nevada, but Action News did some digging and learned other cities are using it with great success.
HAWK first debuted in Tucson back in 2000, and now that city has more than 114 of them, all put up with money from their Regional Transportation Authority. We asked Las Vegas officials if we're going to be seeing more of these in our Valley.
"We're actually looking at even general funding available to install some of these from out of our general pool fund in 2013 depending on how the budget works," said Rohleder.
The HAWK signal at Sahara and 15th Street is still too new to know how well it's working but in 2010 the Federal Highway Administration studied how effective it has been in the Tucson area. They found an 83% reduction in pedestrian crashes after the light went up.
"I know the cost is a lot but we care about safety for pedestrian and drivers," said Kosa.
The City says they're looking at other possible locations for a HAWK signal like near Meadows Mall and along West Sahara. It just depends on foot traffic, which is the main reason this one went up.
"It wasn't enough pedestrian crossing to warrant a full blown traffic signal but a flasher might not have been enough," said Rohleder.
Those who have been using it hope it's a sign of things to come in our Valley.
"It's not scary anymore," said Garcia.
"I think there would be less car accidents," said Serna.
In the first few weeks after the HAWK signal went up officials put up cameras to record how both drivers and pedestrians were reacting to the technology. Now they're in the process of reviewing that footage and they say officials in Henderson have reached out to them to see how it's working.
There are no definite dates or locations for when the next HAWK signal might go up.
Do you know of an intersection that needs a HAWK signal? Let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org be sure to include your phone number.