Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


The progression of a PHB.

Federal Highway Administration. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon installation shown with accompanying signs and pavement markings.
Federal Highway Administration.


Source: Adapted from FHWA Training Materials. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon phases.
Source: Adapted from FHWA Training Materials.



Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB)

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs) can warn and control traffic at unsignalized locations and assist pedestrians in crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk. A PHB should be installed in conjunction with the following:

  • Overhead beacons with three sections (circular yellow signal indication centered below two horizontally aligned circular red signals) facing both directions on the major street.
  • Overhead signs labeled “CROSSWALK STOP ON RED” to indicate that the location is associated with a pedestrian crosswalk.
  • A marked crosswalk on the major street.
  • Countdown pedestrian signal heads to control pedestrian crossings at the crosswalk.
  • Pedestrian detectors, such as pushbuttons.

Unlike a traffic signal, the PHB rests in dark until a pedestrian activates it via pushbutton or other form of detection. When activated, the beacon displays a sequence of flashing and solid lights that indicate the pedestrian walk interval and when it is safe for drivers to proceed. A solid red light requires drivers to stop while pedestrians have the right-of-way to cross the street. The overhead beacon flashes red when the pedestrian signals display a flashing DONT WALK indication. Drivers may proceed if the crosswalk is clear.

The PHB is often considered for installation at locations where pedestrians need to cross and vehicle speeds or volumes are high, but traffic signal warrants are not met. These devices have been successfully used at school crossings, parks, senior centers, and other pedestrian crossings on multilane streets. PHBs are typically installed at the side of the road or on mast arms over midblock pedestrian crossings.


A PHB is a special type of beacon used to warn and control traffic at an unsignalized location to assist pedestrians in crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk.


  • PHBs are a candidate treatment for roads with three or more lanes that generally have annual average daily traffic (AADT) above 9,000.
  • Strongly consider a PHB for all midblock and intersection crossings where the roadway speed limits are equal to or greater than 40 miles per hour.
  • The MUTCD provides guidance on the pedestrian volume warrants, design features, and restrictions associated with the PHB.
  • Can be used at both intersections and midblock locations.
  • Works well to counteract multiple threat crashes.

Estimated Cost

Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are less expensive than a full traffic signal installation. The costs range from $21,000 to $128,000, with an average per unit cost of $57,680.

Safety Effects

The installation of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon can reduce pedestrian crashes by 55%, see NCHRP Research Report 841: Development of Crash Modification Factors for Uncontrolled Pedestrian Crossing Treatments.

Case Studies

Tucson, AZ
Detroit, Michigan
Tucson, Arizona