Statewide pedestrian safety campaign launched

October 5, 2012 3:09:15 PM PDT
Police in Raleigh and several other communities in the Triangle are out in force to crack down on drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. It's part of a statewide campaign that could fine drivers up to $288.

The Triangle area routinely ranks as one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians. Raleigh ranked 13th in a recent study.

The campaign started with a sting in and around downtown Raleigh Friday morning. Many drivers just drove through the crosswalk while an undercover officer tried to cross the road. However, this didn't come as much of a surprise to officers.

"Each year over 400 people are struck," said Lt Kevin Carswell. "Four hundred pedestrians struck in the Triangle alone, and 350 of those are either injured or killed."

It's those injuries and deaths that Raleigh officers hope to prevent by taking part in the state's "Watch for Me NC" campaign.

"We want downtown to be safe for everybody to come and enjoy the museums and the various businesses that are down here," said Carswell. "We want our crosswalks to be safe enough for someone to push a stroller across them without worrying about being struck by a vehicle."

But officers say pedestrians have to do their part, too by using crosswalks.

One area where officers see a lot of accidents is at stoplights. The problem arises when a driver gets a green light and attempts to turn into the path of a pedestrian who also has a "walk now" light flashing.

What motorists need to know is that the pedestrian has the right away if they have a green light and a walk signal to cross.

Right now, drivers and pedestrians are mostly just getting written warnings. But soon, officers will start handing out tickets.

Police in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro are also taking part in enforcing the Watch for Me NC campaign.

Click here for more information on the program.

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