According to Chapel Hill police, there were 19 crashes with pedestrians — including one fatality — and 10 cyclist injuries in town in 2013.
Chapel Hill police officer Stephen Seagroves said when police analyze crash data, they find pedestrians or cyclists are at fault the majority of the time.
“Just watch pedestrians when they are walking across the street,” he said. “They’re texting while walking, listening to music and not paying attention to their surroundings.”
Chapel Hill police Sgt. Celisa Lehew, supervisor of the crash investigation traffic enforcement unit at the Chapel Hill Police Department, said officers offer pedestrian crosswalk safety and enforcement two to four times a month.
Officers monitor crosswalks along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and other streets to make sure drivers and pedestrians are following the laws.
“We want the drivers to yield to pedestrians when they are in the crosswalk and would also like the pedestrians to use the crosswalk,” Lehew said.
An expensive endeavor
Cabe said the town and state have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars installing crosswalk signals and pedestrians simply ignore them.
“I think it is because in today’s society, everyone is in a rush to get from point A to point B. They don’t realize that in between point A and B, that’s what really matters.”
The N.C. Department of Transportation funds the Watch for Me N.C. campaign.
Julia Casadonte, a spokeswoman for the transportation department, said it all started last year when the department noticed problems with pedestrian safety in the Triangle and in other areas across the state.
Seagroves said police will become more aggressive with their tactics if people do not change their behaviors.
Even when officers stand on the corners of intersections in fluorescent jackets holding ticket books, Cabe said pedestrians have scoffed at him and walked against the crosswalk signal anyways.
“No one likes to write a pedestrian a $213 ticket for crossing against the pedestrian crosswalk signals,” Cabe said. “But we will.”
While some cross the street improperly out of impatience, Seagroves said many do it because everyone else does.
Junior Adam Bosley attested to that.
“If another group has already started crossing, I will just join along with them. They say there is power in numbers.”