'Yield to Heels' day highlights pedestrian safety, brings focus to traveler awareness

CHAPEL HILL, NC (September 8, 2010) — Volunteers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will encourage awareness for pedestrian safety throughout the day, educating pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists on UNC's campus. Coordinated by the UNC Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), Yield to Heels encourages safe, attentive and courteous behavior by pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists.

Yield to Heels volunteers along with DPS officers will distribute educational fliers, t-shirts and retro-reflective safety items 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 near Fraternity Court;
  • South Road at both the Student Recreation Center and the Bell Tower; and
  • Manning Drive between the Dental School and the Thurston Bowles Building.

UNC Hospitals Police will also participate in the event and distribute fliers at crosswalks in front of the Memorial, Women's, and Children's Hospitals to extend the message of pedestrian awareness to another busy area on campus.

"This collaborative effort reflects our intention of instilling in both drivers and pedestrians a focus on safety," said Lieutenant Colonel George Hare, deputy chief 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."

Pedestrians should maintain attentiveness while preparing to step into the crosswalk by removing headphones or refraining from talking or texting on a cell phone. Bicyclists should also never wear headphones or use cell phones while riding. Similarly, motorists should also avoid distractions such as reaching for items in the car or eating and drinking while driving.

"Remaining attentive on and around campus is critical for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, especially at designated crossings," said David Harkey, HSRC director. "A crucial part of being attentive is to avoid the use of electronic communication devices while traveling — this includes driving, bicycling and crossing the street as a pedestrian." According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 20 percent of all vehicle crashes in 2008 involved some type of distraction.

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: Davien Anderson, (919) 843-4859

Note: Detailed safety tips for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists are included in the enclosed media package.


Pedestrian Safety Tips for Tar Heels on the Move!

With shorter daylight hours as fall and winter approach, campus community members — including pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists — need to take extra precautions in the campus environment. The University would like to encourage its students, faculty, staff and visitors to stay safe when commuting on campus.

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center and the UNC Department of Public Safety offers the following safety tips to the University community. For more safety tips for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, please visit http://www.hsrc.unc.edu/y2h.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • When approaching a crosswalk area, be prepared to stop for pedestrians. Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk is a violation of North Carolina law.
  • Drive the speed limit, avoid aggressive maneuvers and use turn signals. Check both directions before pulling out from driveways and stop signs.
  • Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians at all times, especially when turning. Bicycles are vehicles and bicyclists may take the entire lane. Scan for bicyclists in traffic and give them the appropriate right-of-way.
  • Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians on your side of the roadway.
  • Watch for bicyclists before opening car doors or backing out of a parking space.
  • Pass bicyclists with care. Treat bicyclists as you would a slow-moving car — don't tailgate, and do wait until traffic conditions allow you to safely pass the bicyclist. Reduce speed when passing bicyclists and allow at least 3 ft of passing space. Check over your shoulder after passing a bicyclist before moving back. Never pass a bicyclist and immediately make a right turn.
  • Do not text or talk on your cell phone while driving.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Look across all lanes you must cross. Even though one vehicle has stopped, another may pass in another lane.
  • Do not assume vehicles can stop. Gauge the flow of traffic before you step out onto the road and wait if necessary. Establish eye contact with drivers before crossing.
  • Always look before you cross the road. Do not rely solely on pedestrian signals.
  • Avoid wearing headphones or talking on a cell phone while crossing the street.
  • Dress in light clothing and wear retro-reflective clothing/materials and/or carry a flashlight when walking at night.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

  • Always wear a helmet. Properly wearing a helmet when cycling is your best means of protection against serious injury.
  • Be predictable and visible. Ride in a straight line, don't weave in and out of lanes or between cars, and use hand signals when turning and stopping.
  • Always ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road.
  • Obey traffic signs, signals, and lane markings and yield to traffic when appropriate, including pedestrians.
  • If riding in the dark, use headlights, taillights and reflectors. Also retro-reflective materials and brightly colored clothing can help others see you better, even during the day.
  • Avoid wearing headphones or talking on a cell phone while bicycling.

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson

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