Yield to Heels aims to educate Tar Heels on foot

CHAPEL HILL – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, though the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, UNC Department of Public Safety and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, will work to educate pedestrians around campus today on the importance of pedestrian awareness as a part of Yield to Heels, an on-campus pedestrian safety education campaign.

Yield to Heels volunteers will be stationed at various locations across campus to distribute educational fliers and giveaways to campus pedestrians. Yield to Heels will also have an informational table set up in the Pit where students can register to win a custom Carolina messenger bag filled with a variety of prizes. UNC Public Safety’s Traffic and Pedestrian Safety officers will demonstrate the use of their new LiDAR equipment, a new tool for enhancing pedestrian safety by more effectively detecting speed violations on campus.

Volunteers will be stationed at the Pit between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the following crosswalks:

  • South Road @ The Bell Tower
  • South Road by Student Rec
  • South Columbia @ Big Frat Court
  • Manning Drive near School of Dentistry & Thurston Bowels Building

"As a part of the campaign, Yield to Heels also aims to clear up myths about traffic safety for both pedestrians and drivers," said David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "Pedestrians should always look at all lanes and in all directions before stepping out into an intersection, including looking for turning vehicles, regardless of what the signal displays. Equally, drivers need to slow down and be ready to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks."

UNC has taken measures to improve pedestrian safety with the establishment of the Pedestrian Safety Committee in 1999 and the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety (TAPS) team in 2001.

The Pedestrian Safety Committee was established in response to the death of Dr. Fusayoshi Matsukawa, a UNC postdoctoral dentistry fellow who was struck by a car while crossing Manning Drive at a marked crosswalk. The committee has been responsible for numerous campus improvements and is pursuing the development of pedestrian bridges over South Road.

Through a grant offered by the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety, UNC established the TAPS team, which actively works to provide a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists throughout the UNC campus. This three-person team distributes citations to motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks, distributes citations to pedestrians who violate pedestrian laws and conducts pedestrian safety classes for campus groups.

"While our message of awareness to both motorists and pedestrians alike is ongoing and consistent, it bears reiteration through programs such as these," said Lieutenant Colonel Jeff McCracken, deputy chief of UNC public safety. "With the unprecedented level of construction on campus in support of our development plan, campus accessibility is constantly changing and evolving. Pedestrian safety requires vigilance on behalf of the entire community."

The Department of Public Safety offers the following safety tips to pedestrians:

  • Be aware: Look across all lanes before crossing. Even though one vehicle has stopped, another may pass in another lane.
  • Be safe: Don’t assume vehicles can stop. Gauge the flow of traffic before stepping out onto the road and wait if necessary.
  • Be considerate: Establish eye contact with drivers before crossing.

The department also offers the following safety tips to drivers:

  • Be aware: Before entering a crosswalk area, be prepared to stop if pedestrians are present.
  • Be safe: Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
  • Be considerate: Establish eye contact with pedestrians.

More information on pedestrian safety is available at www.hsrc.unc.edu/y2h or www.dps.unc.edu.

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Caroline Dickson

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