'Yield to Heels' brings awareness to pedestrian safety

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 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to distribute educational fliers and giveaways to campus pedestrians. Volunteers will be at the following crosswalks:

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

"Yield to Heels aims to educate pedestrians and drivers alike on ways to be safe at crosswalks and other locations around campus," said David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "As we approach the fall and winter months and fewer hours of daylight, it is also a good time to remind pedestrians of the need for extra precautions when crossing streets at night."

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.

"Between the evolution of campus construction and waning daylight this time of year, visibility can be an issue for both pedestrians and motorists," said Chief Jeff McCracken, director of the UNC Department of Public Safety. "Only through continued vigilance and the awareness generated through programs like this can we continue to create and maintain a pedestrian-friendly environment for all campus community members."

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 or www.dps.unc.edu.

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UNC Department of Public Safety contact: Randy Young, ( 919) 962-1502
UNC Highway Safety Research Center contact: Jennifer Bonchak, (919) 843-4859



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Caroline Dickson

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