UNC 'Yield to Heels' campaign encourages attention to safety, with construction projects ongoing

News Release

CHAPEL HILL — As campus construction continues at a high level, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is encouraging its students, faculty, staff and visitors to be aware, be considerate and be safe by recognizing a pedestrian safety day on March 30, 2005.

"As we continue to forge ahead with campus construction, we hold the safety of all commuters, whether by car, bike or on foot, of utmost importance," said Bruce L. Runberg, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and construction.

Pedestrian improvements within the construction plans include a walkway at the new Rams Head Center, a new raised crosswalk on Ridge Road by the Rams Head Center for speed reduction, as well as plans for a temporary mid-block, signalized crosswalk on Manning Drive by the Craige parking deck.

As part of the ongoing campaign, volunteers today will wear "Yield to Heels" T-shirts and be stationed along with public safety officers with message signs at four crosswalk locations. The event is taking place from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Volunteers will distribute free T-shirts and information fliers at the following crosswalks:

  • South Road at the Bell Tower;
  • South Road by the Student Recreation Center;
  • South Columbia Street at the big fraternity court; and
  • Manning Drive between the School of Dentistry and the Thurston Bowles Building.

"When transportation routes and patterns are altered, there is an increased need for safety and awareness," said Doug Robertson, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers need to familiarize themselves with the safest routes and also realize they might be more easily distracted by construction activities occurring around them."

"Yield to Heels" is an ongoing awareness campaign aimed to clear up misconceptions about traffic and pedestrians and provide useful information on pedestrian safety to the university community. The campaign focuses on three messages for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists: Be aware, be considerate and be safe.

With a grant from the N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program, UNC's Department of Public Safety created a three-member traffic and pedestrian safety unit in July 2001. Since then, more than 613 citations have been issued to motorists for failure to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks, and 989 speeding citations (mainly in areas with a high volume of pedestrians) have been written.

"One of our top challenges at the Department of Public Safety is to help ensure accessibility to a campus environment that is continually changing and growing," said Chief Derek Poarch, director of the department. "A clearer understanding of regulations concerning pedestrian safety benefits pedestrians, motorists, and all who travel to, from, and around the university campus."

The unit also has conducted more than 411 pedestrian safety programs in residence halls, fraternities, sororities and other campus groups.

Following the 1999 death of Dr. Fusayoshi Matsukawa, a UNC postdoctoral dentistry fellow who was struck by a car while crossing Manning Drive at a marked crosswalk, a 14-member pedestrian safety committee was formed to report recommendations for campus pedestrian safety improvements to the university's chancellor. Since its formation, the committee's work has resulted in several traffic engineering improvements on campus, including:

  • Upgrades to pedestrian crosswalks including zebra-striping on roads and fluorescent yellow pedestrian crossing and warning signs at all campus crosswalks;
  • Mid-block traffic islands on South Road in front of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union and in front of the Bell Tower that give pedestrians a refuge when crossing the street and allow them to cross just one direction of traffic at a time;
  • A solar-powered flashing light at the Manning Drive crossing near the School of Dentistry;
  • Sidewalk additions at the UNC Hospitals entrance;
  • Sidewalks placed behind a planting strip and bollards with chains placed along portions of Manning Drive to discourage crossing at uncontrolled locations; and
  • Plan and design of new building projects that incorporate pedestrian safety features.

The UNC Department of Public Safety offers the following safety tips:

Pedestrians:

  • Be aware Look across all lanes you must cross. Even though one vehicle has stopped, another may pass in another lane. (look both ways)
  • Be safe Do not assume vehicles can stop. Gauge the flow of traffic before you step out onto the road and wait if necessary.
  • Be considerate Establish eye contact with drivers before crossing.
Drivers:
  • Be aware When entering a crosswalk area, be prepared to stop.
  • Be safe Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians on your side of the roadway.
  • Be considerate Establish eye contact with pedestrians.

For more information on pedestrian safety, click on www.hsrc.unc.edu or www.dps.unc.edu.

UNC Department of Public Safety contact: Randy Young, (919) 962-1502

UNC Highway Safety Research Center: Katy Jones, (919) 843-7007

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson
919.962.5835
dickson@hsrc.unc.edu

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