WalkSmartNC will partner with State Capitol Police (SCP) and Raleigh Police Department (RPD) on Friday to conduct a pedestrian and motorist safety awareness event. A program of the NC Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) that is funded by NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP), a division of the NC Department of Transportation (DOT), WalkSmartNC will promote safety at a high-traffic location in the Downtown State Government Complex during the busy lunchtime period.
SCP, a division of the NC Department of Public Safety, and RPD will be on alert from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday for unsafe driver and pedestrian activity along North Salisbury Street, between West Peace and East Lane streets. Including state parking decks 64, 75 and 76, and the crosswalk to the Dobbs Building (see map below), it is within walking distance of several restaurants and gathering spots.
Officers will issue warnings drivers who fail to properly yield to pedestrians, as well as stop pedestrians who fail to use crosswalks or who demonstrate other unsafe behaviors.
“Violators will be issued a warning to encourage voluntary compliance, as well as be directed to safety resources on the WalkSmartNC website,” said OSHR State Safety and Health Director Eddie Johnson. “We will encourage participation in our Take the Pledge campaign to both ‘walk smart’ and ‘drive smart’ to reduce the incidence of preventable traffic injuries and deaths.
Johnson will be joined by GHSP Director Mark Ezzell, State Parking Director Susan Weiss, and WalkSmartNC Program Manager Jacqueline Kehinde to share information regarding the importance of pedestrian safety from a tent at the SCP headquarters, 417 N. Salisbury St. SCP, RPD and the State Parking Office, a division of the NC Department of Administration, have been WalkSmartNC partners since the initiative launched in 2019.
Friday’s WalkSmartNC outreach is part of Governor Cooper’s proclamation of June as Safety Awareness Month in North Carolina. In Fall 2019, when WalkSmartNC launched, the event location was identified as a high-incident location due to collisions between pedestrians and motorists. With significantly reduced presence of drivers and pedestrians due to the pandemic, the area has seen few collisions but remains active with workers and the lunchtime crowd.
However, Weiss said the State Parking Office continues to receive reports of collisions and concerning near-misses in parking facilities. Recent incidents include crashes caused by motorists driving the wrong way down a one-way lane in Deck 64. Drivers often do not follow the 5-mph speed limit, and pedestrians tend to not use walkways or are distracted by use of cellular devices.
The State Parking Office will leverage WalkSmartNC to remind state employees and visitors about safe movement within parking facilities and while walking to nearby offices, museums and other locations. About 2,475 state employees use the three parking decks daily, along with about 70-150 guests who use the Deck 75 visitor lot.
The 2020 NC Crash Facts report published by the NC Division of Motor Vehicles found that 12 percent of all pedestrians involved in motor vehicle crashes were killed. That accounted for 249 pedestrian deaths, a 7.8 percent increase from 2019. Distracted behaviors, such as texting while driving or walking, were reported as factors in at least 17.9 percent of crashes.
Additional WalkSmartNC safety activities are planned for coming months as more state employees and other downtown workers are anticipated to return to onsite work. State employees and members of the public are encouraged to watch pedestrian safety training videos posted on the WalkSmartNC website.
OSHR established WalkSmartNC as an interagency collaboration in 2019 in response to a state employee pedestrian fatality in downtown Raleigh and multiple incidences of work-related pedestrian-vehicle incidents resulting in workers’ compensation claims occurring on streets and in parking lots on or near state worksites. This initiative has evolved into a comprehensive education, training, enforcement and public awareness campaign for state employees that serves as a pilot for the implementation of pedestrian safety projects throughout the state.
In addition to its support of WalkSmartNC, DOT also provides funding and technical assistance for local pedestrian safety projects through the Highway Safety Improvement Program, Safe Routes to School Program, implementation of the state’s Complete Streets policy, and other initiatives.
Note to media: Live trucks are welcome for this WalkSmartNC awareness event. Please ensure that vehicles are parked safely to avoid blocking pedestrian movement or creating traffic congestion. For the complete State Parking Map, visit https://ncadmin.nc.gov/state-parking-map.
On Friday, contact OSHR Digital Communications Specialist Devon McGarvey at 919-219-8249 or Devon.McGarvey@nc.gov.