Our verify researchers are tackling a subject that a lot of pedestrians have asked about. Do those crosswalk signal buttons really actually do anything? Or is it just a placebo to make you feel better while waiting to cross the street?
The Boston Globe reported buttons in that city don't work. So we checked with Geoff Carleton with Traffic Engineers about the buttons in Houston. He said Houston doesn't have any placebo buttons but some might be broken.
We also learned that those buttons aren't designed to get a walk signal to pop up faster. They're usually designed to make the red light last longer so pedestrians have more time to cross.
In areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic, there are usually no buttons at crosswalks because the lights are already synced to allow you enough time to get across.
Geoff Carleton, Traffic Engineers, INC