Smart Crosswalk™ In-Roadway Warning Light (IRWL) System -

Smart Crosswalk™ – The Original IRWL Lighted Crosswalk System

Twenty-five years ago LightGuard Systems® revolutionized pedestrian safety with the development of Smart Crosswalk™ — the first ever In-Roadway Warning Light (IRWL) system of its kind. Smart Crosswalk™ alerts motorists in real-time of pedestrians crossing up to 1,000 feet in advance of the crosswalk, giving motorists ample time to slow to a stop.

In a study conducted by Whitlock & Weinberger Transportation Inc., April 1998, LightGuard’s IRWL system increased driver yield rates to pedestrians from 20 percent to 95 percent in the evening.

System Configuration

A typical Smart Crosswalk™ System configuration is comprised of the following product components:

  • Patented, in-roadway warning lights (IRWLs)
  • Durable composite or steel (snowplow blade resistant) base plates
  • Automatic activation pedestrian detection bollards (or push buttons)
  • Flashing LED warning signs
  • Advanced programmable controller (with battery back-up and lockable weatherproof cabinet)
  • Activated via solar or A/C power sources


Selecting the best Smart Crosswalk system components for your project:

1. How Many In-Roadway Warning Lights?

The number of LightGuard Systems® 9X LightStar™ IRWL signal heads needed depends on the number of lanes in the roadway. A typical two-lane roadway requires five (5) IRWLs embedded into the roadway on each side of the crosswalk—for a total of ten (10) IRWLs, plus ten (10) base plates. (See Figure 2.)

LightStar™ 9X IRWL Signal Head ModuleThe direction, or placement, of the IRWLs faces away—outward from the crosswalk’s center—to alert oncoming motorists in either direction.

Similarly, a typical four-lane roadway requires seven (7) lights facing outward in each direction for a total of fourteen (14) lights plus fourteen (14) base plates.

Figure 2

2. Base Plate Options

Base Plates protect and house the IRWLs—and are purposefully designed for their durability and resistance. Our proprietary Debris-Free Self Clearing™ feature is built into the base plate. This design compresses air so vehicle tires “jet out” the accumulated rubble through the fluted air channels. (See Figures 3 and 4)

Standard 10” Composite Base Plate

Our 10” x 1.5” standard composite base plate model is made of ultra-high strength composite material. It is designed to be permanently embedded into the roadway.

Figure 3

Steel Snow Plow Resistant 14” Base Plate

For regions where snow plows are used to clear roadways, we offer a 30 lbs., 14″ x 1 1/2″ steel base plate designed to protect against a snowplow blade striking the base plate.

Figure 4

3. Activation Methods

Smart Crosswalk™ activates in one of two ways: automatically via bi-directional infrared sensors that are triggered when a pedestrian enters the crosswalk from either end (See Figure 6); or by a pedestrian manually pressing a button (See Figure 5).

Each activation method has its benefits. However, the combination of both push buttons and bollards is recommended to ensure optimal safety—as some pedestrians are more familiar and compliant with pushing a button, while others are not.

If only one activation method in used, we recommend our T6  Automatic Activation Bollard. Infrared sensors are encased inside a set of bollards (free-standing columns as seen in Figure 6) that are installed on both ends of the crosswalk. In addition to providing optimal pedestrian safety, bollards also provide an attractive, and easily recognizable visual entry point that features a NightGuide™ courtesy lamp/light—which gently illuminates the crosswalk entrance and invites the pedestrian to cross the street at the safest place.

Bollards come in standard white color. Custom colors are also available.

Figure 6

4. Type of Power

Driven by your project’s power source location, budget, sun exposure and other considerations, Smart Crosswalk™ can easily be configured to work with either an existing A/C power source, solar power, or both. At sites where the costs related to bringing a standard power supply to the Power Control Unit (PCU) location are too high, solar power might be the best option.

5. System Controllers

The Power Control Unit (PCU) functions as the “brain” of your lighted crosswalk system. It allows the user to set up/activate the timing of the IRWL flashing lights, monitor the system, and capture data.  A fail safe feature automatically warns users of any system malfunction. We offer:

Basic Controller

The basic controller provides all of the basic functions to operate your SmartCrosswalk™ System successfully, such as setting the crossing rate time of the flashing IRWL lights. The Basic Controller does not include a backup battery, or the ability to store data. (See Figure 7.)

Advanced Controller

The advanced controller is capable of monitoring and storing data such as time, date, and movement in each crosswalk direction. It can be programmed to turn on automatically at a specific time, and then revert to standby mode for normal operation. It contains instantaneous battery back-up power in the event of a power failure. The advanced controller is capable of accommodating additional pedestrian safety features such as the use of flashing beacons, simultaneous yet independently activated crosswalks, remote communication, and other custom-based applications. (See Figure 8).

Figures 7 and 8

6. Flashing Light Emitting Diodes (LED) Warning Signs

Our Flashing LED Warning Signs complement a Smart Crosswalk™ system. They offer and additional level of safety by helping to alert drivers’ of pedestrians crossing the street and reinforce existing traffic control measures. (See Figure 10).

 A typical Smart Crosswalk™ configuration includes LED signs on both sides of the street. For an enhanced level of visibility, and depending on the street configuration, you may consider our back-to-back sign option (total of four signs).

LED signs are available in a variety of standard sizes (30″, 36”, and 48”), as well as customized sizes. All LightGuard’s signs can be powered via A/C and/or solar power sources.

Zone of Convergence... More

Installation Guidelines and Operation... More

Typical IRWL Crosswalk Layout Pattern ... More

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