RRFB(Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons) have greatly improved pedestrian safety at mid block crossings and uncontrolled intersections. This is partly due to their low cost, allowing cities to canvas whole corridors instead of a single location.
So why did the FHWA rescind it's interim approval?
Florida based R.D. Jones Stop Experts Inc. first had the product tested in Florida in 2008. Through that testing, RRFBs received interim approval, R.D. Jones was then awarded his patents in 2011 & 2012. There were several companies including a Canadian based company that pirated his design, so in 2016 Stop Experts filed a lawsuit claiming patent infringements.
Stop Experts' website states, "FACT: If it is Solar Powered and Radio Controlled, make sure you purchased it ONLY through an official authorized supplier of R.D. Jones, Stop Experts, Inc."
This gets us to why the interim approval was rescinded. The FHWA released an official statement saying "...This device has been patented, and it is against the public interest to encourage the exclusive use of proprietary products through the Manuel on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)."
It is a long standing tradition of the FHWA to not encourage any device that has patents that prevent competitors from entering into the market.
This is certainly a tricky situation for R.D. Jones Stop Experts. He was getting beat out of the market by his own product. It is also easy to understand the issue from the FHWA's perspective, as they can't encourage cities and counties to buy a specific product from only one manufacturer. What are your thoughts on this issue? Is it beneficial, or ultimately harmful to the American people? Does it encourage or discourage innovation on the roadways?
On a positive note there are alternatives already available such as the new innovation from Trafficalm pictured below.