The Duke University Police Department has joined police organizations across the state for the "Watch for Me NC" campaign, a program aimed at reducing the number of pedestrians hit and injured in crashes with vehicles.
Sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Watch for Me NC's goal is to reduce the number of motor vehicle and pedestrian crashes in the Triangle through education and enforcement of pedestrian safety laws.
Between now and the end of November, Duke police officers will be randomly stationed at several crosswalks throughout Duke University and Duke University Health System. Locations will change each day as officers watch for violations of pedestrian laws.
"The purpose of our participation in the program is simply to help educate the Duke community and keep them safe," said Eric Hester, Duke Police, crime prevention officer. "We will not be issuing any citations, but just want to make sure pedestrians are aware of their responsibility to use crosswalks safely and follow proper signals at all times."
If a Duke Police member sees a student, employee or visitor improperly crossing the street, an officer may chat about proper safety and offer an informational brochure from the state DOT, Hester said. If necessarily, officers will talk to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks - state law requires motorists yield to pedestrians in such a case.
In 2011, the Triangle area was listed as the 13th most dangerous metro area for pedestrians by Transportation for America, a nationwide organization that focuses on transportation and public safety. According to the group, Durham County had 49 transportation-related pedestrian deaths between 2000 and 2009.
"Our goal is to show why it's important to pay attention - especially as a pedestrian who's unprotected from vehicles," Hester said.