Pedestrian safety awareness highlighted through Yield to Heels campaign at UNC

CHAPEL HILL (Sept. 17, 2008) -- Pedestrian safety awareness will be emphasized throughout the day today as volunteers for the "Yield to Heels" campaign educate campus users at UNC Chapel Hill on safety while walking, bicycling or motoring around campus. Entering its ninth year, the on-campus pedestrian safety education campaign is coordinated by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, UNC Department of Public Safety and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.

Volunteers for Yield to Heels will encourage folks to "be safe, be aware and be considerate," as they are 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
  • Pittsboro Street @ School of Public Health/SECU

"We have had several pedestrian tragedies on and around campus during recent months," said David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "Yield to Heels is a day long event to remind motorists and pedestrians of the need to stay alert and use caution while driving and walking in the vicinity of 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.

"With the introduction Lidar speed-measuring technology in 2006 and the recent implementation of our Speedsentry radar system this fall, we are better able to monitor motorists' rates of speed on campus roads," said Director of UNC Public Safety Chief Jeff McCracken. "Coupled with Yield to Heels and similar initiatives communicating safety tips to pedestrians, as well, means a common understanding of safe practices and a more comprehensive level of pedestrian safety at UNC."

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 or

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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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