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H.A.W.K. system increases student safety in crosswalk

Campus Life Sep 22, 2020
A person crosses the street at a crosswalk
A person crosses the street at a crosswalk

KOKOMO, Ind. – A newly installed signal on Washington Street now makes it safer for students to walk to and from campus.

Indiana University Kokomo partnered with the city of Kokomo to install the High-Intensity Activated crossWalK (H.A.W.K.) beacon, which includes signal poles on either side of Washington Street, a push button for pedestrians to activate the lights, and signs. The lights are located over the street, for easier viewing by drivers. The system went active in early September.

With the simple push of a button, freshman Anna Kaiser can cross Washington Street safely to get to her classes from her apartment.

“I think it makes it safer to cross there,” said Kaiser, a basketball player from Noblesville. “I don’t have to worry that drivers won’t see me, or won’t stop for me.”

John Sarber, director of physical facilities, said the campus wanted a signal there to increase safety for students, knowing that cars sometimes speed in the stretch of Washington Street between the privately-owned complex and campus. He and his team worked with city officials to find the right solution to improve safety for students, while not creating traffic hazards for drivers.

“The city did not want to put up another stoplight,” he said. “The H.A.W.K. beacon does not stop traffic except when someone needs to cross. They can make it be a stoplight on their own, just when needed. The rest of the time, traffic can continue through as normal.”

The lights, suspended across Washington Street, remain dark until a pedestrian activates them by pushing the button. Drivers will first see flashing yellow lights, then solid yellow lights, as a warning before the lights become steady red. As the timed crossing nears its end, the red lights will begin flashing, and then will go dark again.

Pedestrians see a signal with a hand held up to stop, until the red light comes on. Then, a safe crossing signal and timer comes on, letting them know how long they have to cross before the red lights go out.

Senior Bailey Wood, who manages The Annex and has lived there, appreciates the additional safety feature.

“Residents like knowing they can control and hit the button and see the lights turn on at that point, rather than waiting for an opening to walk across,” she said. “When they use the light, drivers do stop pretty far back, rather than right up by our entrance. It definitely adds some safety to that crossing.”

Freshmen Toni Suster, from Romania, and Josh Smith, Greenfield, both said they are glad to see the signal in place.

“It makes it a lot easier to get across because you don’t have to wait for a break in the traffic,” said Smith. “It makes me feel safer.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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