Drivers are still getting used to the HAWK signal

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Last Friday, a new traffic signal in Tonawanda was activated. It’s called the HAWK.

It’s meant to keep people safe as they cross the Rails to Trails bike path at Sheridan Drive, but drivers are still getting used to it.

“The biggest confusion seems to be when it goes from solid red to blinking red and whether a motorist is allowed to proceed,” Captain Joseph Carosi of the Town of Tonawanda Police Department said.

If a pedestrian or cyclist needs to cross the six-lane road, they can press the crosswalk button. That activates the signal. Then it will flash a yellow light, prompting drivers to slow down. Then it will turn solid yellow, then flashing red before solid red. Once drivers have the red light, they have to come to a complete stop, so pedestrians and cyclists can cross the road. After they’ve safely made it to the other side, drivers will see flashing red lights. At that time, drivers can proceed with caution. That’s the part that’s confusing many people.

“What we’re telling people is to treat the red signals as you would any other red signal. Solid red means stop. When it goes to a flashing mode, treat it like a stop sign. Stop, look, listen, and if it’s clear, then proceed,” Captain Carosi said.

Due to the confusion, a number of people are concerned about crossing. They don’t trust that each driver will obey the traffic signal.

“We would always encourage everybody to make sure traffic stops, fully and completely, before your step out into traffic,” Carosi said.

Officers issued 8 traffic tickets at or around the HAWK signal over the weekend, according to Captain Carosi. He said most of them were for passing the red light.

Also, there were no accidents at the crosswalk.

“People are getting the hang of the signal relatively quickly, with of course, a couple of exceptions. People are understanding that this is just the new way of transportation,” he said.

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