Ask Capt. Oliveira: How to Use Pedestrian Beacons

Capt. Steve Oliveira

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

“What is the actual law about the light at the crosswalk between Gateway Park and Natomas Blvd on Del Paso? I always stop when it’s red and wait until it’s no longer red (even through the brief flashing red). But I’ve seen many versions in between, including a ‘friendly neighbor’ who decided to lay on his horn until I moved when the light turned off.” — T.C. via Facebook

Dear reader:

The crosswalk light in question is called a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon and is often referred to as a PHB.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, these PHBs have been proven to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes. Because they remain dark until activated, they can help increase driver attention to pedestrians crossing the roadway and reduce rear-end collisions.

The City has installed a number of these PHBs throughout the City to fill the gap between unprotected crosswalks and full traffic signals for pedestrian safety. For motorists, when the PHB is activated you will see a flashing yellow light followed by a solid yellow light. This is a warning to motorists that a pedestrian has activated the PHB and they should prepare to stop. A solid red light indicates motorists must come to a complete stop and wait at the stop line.

Now for the answer to the big question. During the alternating flashing red lights, you must still come to a complete stop and yield to pedestrians, but you can proceed once it’s safe to do so. You don’t have to wait for the lights to turn off.

Here is a chart so you can see what a pedestrian sees and what a motorist sees when the PHB is activated.

—Capt. Oliveira


Capt. Steve Oliveira oversees the Sacramento Police Dept.’s north-area command, which includes Natomas. To submit your questions to Capt. Oliveira, send an email to [email protected] with “Ask Capt. Oliveira” in the subject line.

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