Since You Asked: School-area red lights continue to raise questions

What exactly is the proper way to handle the two red lights at the new South Medford High crosswalk at the corner of Diamond Street and Columbus Avenue? I know that when they're solid red, I need to stop, but when they go from solid to flashing does that mean they're like a normal flashing red light you see at some four-way stops?

I currently stay stopped until the lights go completely off, but I'd like to know whether that's correct, or is it OK to go as long as there's nobody crossing?

— Christine P., Medford

Our good friend, Sgt. Dace Cochran of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, addressed this very question just weeks ago, Christine. But since the new signal continues to raise questions, we'll run through the details again.

That signal is referred to as a HAWK signal, the HAWK standing for High-intensity Activated Crosswalk. It's a new kind of signal designed to help pedestrians cross busy streets, and it apparently works, at least in your case, Christine.

Before we take you through the paces on this signal, let's just say you were on the right track. If the signal isn't lit, you can proceed through the intersection. If the light starts blinking yellow, motorists should be on the alert that the signal is about to change. If the blinking yellow turns to solid yellow, motorists should stop completely. Once the light is solid red, motorists must stay stopped.

When the red light starts blinking, motorists can cross the intersection — but only if pedestrians have crossed and are safely on the curb. Check to make sure no other pedestrians are coming from either direction when the light is blinking red.

Pedestrians should proceed over the crosswalk only when the "Walk" signal is lit. If the "Don't walk" signal lights up as you cross the street, continue to walk to the other side. Do not enter the crosswalk once the "don't walk" signal lights up. The signal was recommended by the high-school design team for the Medford School District.

Hope you like it, Christine.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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