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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Safety Evaluation of Flashing Beacons at Stop-Controlled Intersections

Publication Information

Publication Type:
Publication Number:

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) organized a pooled fund study of 26 States to evaluate low-cost safety strategies as part of its strategic highway safety effort. One of the strategies chosen to be evaluated for this study was flashing beacons. Three types of flashing beaconsintersection control beacons, beacons mounted on STOP signs, and actuated beaconswere considered collectively at stop-controlled intersections. This strategy is intended to reduce the frequency of crashes related to driver unawareness of stop control at unsignalized intersections. Geometric, traffic, and crash data were obtained at stop-controlled intersections for 64 sites in North Carolina and 42 sites in South Carolina. Empirical Bayes methods were incorporated in a before-after analysis to determine the safety effectiveness of installing flashing beacons, while accounting for potential selection bias and regression-to-the-mean effects. Overall, installation of flashing beacons in North Carolina resulted in statistically significant reductions in total, angle, and injury plus fatal crashes. The intersections in South Carolina experienced very little change following the introduction of flashing beacons. The combined results from both the States supports the conclusion that an angle crash reduction of a 13 percent and an injury and fatal crash reduction of 10 percent can be expected.

The economic analysis based on the combined results for angle and nonangle accidents from both States indicates that standard flashing beacons and some of the actuated ones (i.e., the less expensive beacons) are economically justified, but that a benefit cost ratio of 2:1 may not be achievable for the more expensive actuated beacon types.

Publishing Date:
March 2008
Publishing Office:
Office of Safety Research and Development
FHWA Program(s):
AMRP Program(s):
Safety Data and Analysis
FHWA Activities:
Highway Safety Information System
Subject Area:
Safety and Human Factors