Fall Yield to Heels Day encourages pedestrian safety across UNC campus

News Release

CHAPEL HILL — 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 October 26, 2005.

The day is a part of Yield to Heels, an ongoing campaign implemented by the UNC department of public safety and the UNC Highway Safety Research Center.

"Through this collaborative effort, we want safety to be the primary focus for both drivers and pedestrians on campus," said Colonel Jeff McCracken, deputy director of UNC's department of public safety. "Visibility is an ongoing concern due to the volume of construction on campus, and increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic surrounding large-scale special events only heightens the need for diligence on everyone's part."

The upcoming weekend also marks the end of daylight-saving time, which will bring a decrease in daylight during the evening hours.

"With a decrease in daylight comes reduced visibility and an increase in your risk of being involved in a fatal pedestrian crash," said Dr. Doug Robertson, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "We see the majority of pedestrian fatalities during the evening hours. In fact, over half of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. occur between 4 p.m. and midnight."

Event 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.

"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, the unit has issued citations to motorists for failure to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks and focused on identifying speeding violators in campus areas with a high volume of pedestrian traffic.

The unit also conducts pedestrian safety programs in residence halls, fraternities, sororities, and to 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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