'Yield to Heels' day emphasizes pedestrian safety on UNC campus

CHAPEL HILL, NC (September 30, 2009) - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will work to educate pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers around campus today on the importance of visibility and attentiveness as a part of Yield to Heels, an on-campus pedestrian safety education campaign.

Yield to Heels volunteers along with Department of Public Safety officers will distribute educational fliers, retro-reflective items and t-shirts to pedestrians at crosswalks across campus. Volunteers will be stationed between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the following crosswalks:

  • South Columbia Street by Fraternity Court;
  • South Road at both the Student Recreation Center and the Bell Tower; and
  • Manning Drive between the Dental School and Thurston Bowles Building.

For the first time UNC Hospitals Police and volunteers will also be handing out fliers at crosswalks in front of the Memorial, Women's, and Children's Hospitals in an effort to spread the message of pedestrian awareness to another busy area on 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. Over the past year (July, 2008 - June, 2009), the Community Response Unit conducted 46 pedestrian safety programs, established more than 390 new liaison contacts regarding traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle safety throughout the University community, and the Pedestrian Safety Team issued more than 134 of the department's total 202 speed-related citations to campus drivers.

Coordinated by the UNC Department of Public Safety and the UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), Yield to Heels also aims to clear up myths about traffic safety for both pedestrians and drivers.

"Yield to Heels is a vital component of the continuing efforts to create a safe walking environment on and around the UNC campus," said David Harkey, HSRC director. "The one-day event is a great opportunity to remind pedestrians of the need to use caution at every street crossing and motorists of the need to travel slowly and be prepared for crossing pedestrians."

"This collaborative effort reflects our intention of instilling in both drivers and pedestrians a focus on safety," said Chief Jeff McCracken, Director of UNC's Department of Public Safety. "At this time of year, the campus community stages many large-scale special events, and with waning daylight, there is an acute need to re-emphasize a universal understanding of pedestrian safety practices."

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.


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

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Caroline Dickson

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