When students at Lamar Elementary in Wichita Falls, TX head back to school on Wednesday, they’ll be a little safer than they were last year. That’s because over the summer, the city installed two Carmanah rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) at the intersection of Hines Blvd. and Lucas Ave., right in front of their school.
Previously, the intersection lacked virtually any pedestrian amenities. Only one of the four approaches to the intersection has a sidewalk, and the one crosswalk that was identified was marked only with a single warning sign and faded paint. Drivers frequently exceed the speed limit, which is reduced to 20 mph during school pick-up and drop-off times.
All this despite the fact that more than half of the school’s 420 students—as well as their parents, teachers, and other school staff—walk to school most of the time.
Now, these people will be able to take advantage of the new RRFBs, which the FHWA says can result in driver yield rates as high as 98% at marked crosswalks. They have also been shown to reduce crashes involving pedestrians by 47%.
Pedestrians approaching the crosswalk activate the high-intensity, rapid flashing lights using an ADA-compliant iNX pushbutton, which includes a locator tone and vibrotactile indication for people with motor, visual, and auditory disabilities. The lights then flash for 20 seconds—long enough for a pedestrian or group of students to cross the two-lane road safely.
“As the principal, my first job is to ensure the safety of all students and staff,” said Principal Amanda Garcia. “Sending them home, I’m able to have more peace and comfort because I know than an extra measure has been put into place for their overall safety.”
The RRFBs (two Carmanah solar-powered R920-E systems) were awarded to the City of Wichita Falls as part of a first-time partnership between Carmanah and America Walks. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today (Monday, August 15) to celebrate the installation and was attended by the mayor, city councillors, Principal Garcia, members of the traffic department, and health district staff (which was instrumental in making this project happen!).