DPS raises awareness of jaywalking

When junior Mike Hermanson crossed Manning Drive while oncoming traffic had the right of way, he was met by a police officer on the other side.

“The cop came out of SASB — out of nowhere — onto the sidewalk and said, ‘Son, do you know what you just did?’” he said of the interaction that occurred last semester.

Hermanson jaywalked, an offense that could earn him a $25 ticket — and $188 in legal fees.

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“We can certainly cite at any period in time if people are walking in a way that’s dangerous to themselves or others,” said Randy Young, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

Young said the department has conducted multiple campaigns educating students about jaywalking.

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center has joined forces with DPS and the chancellor’s committee on pedestrian and bicycle safety to promote a new campaign educating the community on traffic safety and laws.

“There isn’t a great place on campus for students to go to know what the rules are,” said Caroline Dickson, senior manager of communications, education and outreach for the center.

Young said DPS will give tickets for jaywalking, typically following a period of handing out warnings.

He said the department only gives citations when pedestrians show a complete lack of attention to safety.

But sophomore Kevin Waid said knowing he could receive a citation likely would not deter him from crossing illegally.

“When I’m really stressed out, I just walk in the middle of the road and hope I don’t die,” Waid said.

“It’s probably not the smartest, but when you do it every day, you have to take your chances.”

The center helped conduct focus groups last April to determine traffic safety issues on campus, and it is now soliciting student opinions through an online survey.

“We need to help make drivers and pedestrians and bikers aware of what the rules and laws are and how to be aware of their surroundings,” Dickson said.

While the details of the new safety campaign are still in the works, Young said the idea of situational awareness is key.

“It’s being aware of their situations, looking both ways,” he said. “It may sound trite, but off texting and cellphones, being aware of traffic flow.”

Dickson said updates to the campaign are not a reaction to an increase in accidents, but they are meant to educate.

“There’s a responsibility for pedestrians and drivers and bicyclists to look out for each other — that’s the main goal of this campaign.”

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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