On December 21, 2017, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rescinded its interim approval of new installations of Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFB) due to issued and pending patents by the inventor of the RRFB, Stop Experts. Since FHWA issued the memo, agencies and pedestrian safety advocates have considered the following questions:
Why did FHWA rescind its approval of RRFBs? FHWA’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways – the national standard for all traffic control devices — prohibits patented devices from experimentation or inclusion. FHWA learned of the existence of four issued U.S. patents and at least one pending patent covering RRFBs and issued this memo.
Must agencies take down existing RRFBs? The short answer is “no.” State, county or city agencies are not required to take down the existing RRFBs; however, future or planned installations should be replaced with other treatments to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety at uncontrolled crossings. Additionally, if pre-existing RRFBs are damaged, they cannot be repaired and must be taken down and replaced with an alternative.
What should agencies use instead of RRFBs? While they are not included in the FHWA Highway Safety Manual as proven countermeasures, the following treatments have been shown to increase motorist yielding: flashing LED beacons, LED enhanced crossing signs, gateway stop or yield signs, crosswalk visibility enhancements and street lighting, pedestrian hybrid beacons (HAWKs), raised crosswalks, and pedestrian refugee islands.
How does this impact BFF-monitored crosswalks? With Orange County and the City of Orlando, BFF currently monitors and enforces three crosswalks where RRFBs were installed. At those crosswalks, driver yield rate increased 30-55% post installation. Sources in Pinellas County claim that they have seen driver yield rates of 85-90% in areas with RRFBs. Even though we have seen great success with RRFBs, BFF partners must seek alternative methods until the patent dispute is resolved.
Orlando Sentinel reporter Ryan Gillespie interviewed BFF coalition partners from Bike/Walk Central Florida, MetroPlan Orlando, Orange County, Osceola County and the Florida Department of Transportation about RRFBs and FHWA’s memo rescinding its approval. Click here to read the article.
For more information, please refer to the FWHA memo below: