The City of Indianapolis was pursuing multiple opportunities to improve safety for children traveling to school. This particular project, funded in part by Highway Safety Improvement Plan (HSIP) funds, was to replace static signs with flashing beacons to improve driver awareness of school zones. Speed and crossing signs were upgraded as part of this project.
Before, school zones in Indianapolis had a reduced speed limit from 7:00 am to 4:30 pm on school days. With multiple school districts, some year-round schools, charter and private schools, it is difficult for drivers to keep track of school days. For many hours of the day, students are safely studying in the classroom. Drivers need to be extra cautions primarily during arrival and dismissal periods. By changing the speed reduction from times of day to “when flashing”, the condition is more clearly defined, with hopes to improve driver compliance in the reduced speed.
Uncontrolled crosswalks are those in the middle of the block or at an intersection where drivers don’t have a stop sign or signal. Uncontrolled crosswalks in school zones are typically marked by signs and pavement markings, and possibly and adult crossing guard. As part of the safety improvement project, rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) assemblies were installed at uncontrolled crosswalks. These flashing lights are activated by a pedestrian push button and are accompanied by the typical crosswalk signage. Because the lights flash only when a pedestrian is planning to cross, they more easily capture drivers’ attention. One study showed 72-96% of drivers stopped or yielded to pedestrians where RRFBs were installed, compared to 0-26% prior to installation.
Shrewsberry completed the HSIP funding applications and design for all phases of the project. Phases I and II were constructed in 2016, while Phase III was constructed in 2017, and included new flashers as well as hardware upgrades to the Phase I and II flashers. Combined, approximately 76 RRFB assemblies and over 500 speed zone assemblies were installed.