Enforcement comes with its challenges, said Ran Northam, the community safety communications specialist for Chapel Hill police.
“There are always new distractions; there are the cell phones that people are looking at while they’re walking. There are cell phones while people are driving too,” Northam said.
Distracted driving in Chapel Hill has caused motor vehicle accidents with pedestrians. UNC-Chapel Hill junior Brittany Hughes was struck by a car last March at the intersection of Mason Farm Road and South Columbia Street
Hughes said she was running on a crosswalk when a car turning right failed to yield and ran into her.
The drivers and witnesses helped her off the road. While she had no major injuries except for a fractured foot, she wasn’t able to participate in the marathon she had trained for months for.
“I think the thing I struggled most with was that yesterday I was literally in shape to run a marathon and now I can’t walk,” Hughes said.
She still feels the effects of the incident and says she is more cautious about driving and walking on campus. Hughes said she encourages pedestrians and drivers to always pay attention in a busy university town like Chapel Hill.
“You could really hurt somebody [if you’re not paying attention],” she said. “I was just super lucky with the limited injuries that I had.”
Atack said there are community-wide efforts to decrease the risk of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents.
“I think when you see on a daily basis how many vehicles, how many bicyclists, how many pedestrians, especially in the downtown area are operating, it’s incredibly safe,” he said. “Where we have concerns is where people are not paying attention or not following the rules.”