According to the Charlotte Observer, police in Uptown Charlotte recently began ticketing jaywalkers and fining drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. The action comes in response to a year of record pedestrian fatalities in the area. Police handed out 41 tickets on July 30th.
According to the article and the Administrative Office of the Courts, the fine for jaywalking in North Carolina is $25. Failure to yield to pedestrians usually results in a $35 fine, but the fine for failure to yield while making a right on red is $100. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-158(b)(2)(c). In any case, court fees are an additional $188, making the total penalty a hefty one for most people.
The Charlotte Observer reported several days later that many people were grumbling about the crackdown. But pedestrians and downtown drivers in Charlotte will not be alone. Police in Raleigh report that car versus pedestrian incidents are up this year, most noticeably near bus stops. Police will begin a pedestrian safety campaign this month, according to the Midtown Raleigh News. The campaign will be called Watch for Me NC and focus on educating both drivers and walkers. The enforcement portion of the campaign will begin October 6.
Jaywalking is especially common where there are not many street lights or marked crosswalks. Even in areas where there are lights and crosswalks at every block, there is often so much activity that drivers may not see pedestrians (or may be distracted) or pedestrians may assume that drivers do see them and step in front of a moving vehicle, expecting the driver to stop.
The education and enforcement tactics described above are a part of statewide pedestrian and bicycle plan created by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation. The Department is also looking for resident feedback on how to make North Carolina safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The website for this campaign is www.walkbikenc.com. Residents are encouraged to submit their ideas and concerns to the Department on the site no later than September 30, 2012. Other recent ideas are posted to review and comment.
Let’s all stay safe out there!