UNC campus encouraged to 'be safe, be considerate and be aware' through "Yield to Heels" pedestrian awareness campaign

CHAPEL HILL - Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists around UNC Chapel Hill will be educated today on the importance of pedestrian awareness thanks to the efforts of the eighth annual Yield to Heels campaign, coordinated by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, UNC Department of Public Safety and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.

Volunteers for Yield to Heels, an on-campus pedestrian safety education campaign, will be stationed at various locations across campus to distribute educational fliers and giveaways to campus pedestrians. Volunteers will be located in the Pit from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. and at the following crosswalks between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.:

  • 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 is a unique opportunity to stress the importance of safe street crossings to both pedestrians and motorists alike within the crossing environment," said David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "The UNC campus includes multiple locations where pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists must share the road, so by encouraging an understanding and consideration among the groups, we hope to increase the safety of all road users across the campus."

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.

"By prioritizing a shared understanding of the tenets of pedestrian safety by both motorists and the pedestrians themselves, we can create a safer environment for all UNC community members," said Chief Jeff McCracken, director of the UNC Department of Public Safety. "It’s through programs like Yield to Heels that we consistently emphasize our safety tips and regulations. This is particularly important now given the prevalence of outdoor activities during the springtime and the number of ongoing campus construction projects."

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

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson

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