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Pause for Pedestrians: City Installs Flashing Beacons for Safer Street Crossing

Flashing crosswalk

Rockville is sporting flashier crosswalks in recent months as the city installs flashing beacons to improve pedestrian safety.

The beacons are flashing yellow lights attached to crosswalk signs at either end of a crosswalk. They bring attention to crosswalks that don’t have stops signs or signals and are designed to alert drivers that a pedestrian is at the crosswalk. The beacons aren’t stop signs or stop lights, but drivers are required to come to a complete stop when a person is using the crosswalk.

The city installed beacons at the intersection of Great Falls Road and Monument Avenue in summer 2020 and this fall at a crosswalk on Wootton Parkway in front of Thomas S. Wootton High School.

The beacons work similarly to a signalized crosswalk. People needing to cross the street press the button to activate the beacons. Once the lights are flashing, they should look for oncoming motor vehicle traffic and, when it is clear, cross the street as they normally would, using the crosswalk.

Maryland law requires drivers to come to a stop when a person is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk on the same half of the roadway, or in an adjacent lane. Pedestrians must take care not to walk into the path of an approaching vehicle if it is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

A flashing beacon means a person is at the crosswalk. Drivers should slow to a complete stop so that the person may cross the street safely. Once the person has reached the sidewalk on the other side of the street, vehicular traffic can proceed.

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