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Keeping Traffic Safety in Mind During COVID-19

Post Date:06/24/2020 8:46 AM

FRANKLIN STREET CROSSWALKWith the effects of COVID-19 and North Carolina’s phased reopening impacting traffic around Chapel Hill, Town officials are urging residents and visitors to follow speed limits, be on the lookout for other road users, and keep safety in mind.

While reduced traffic offers an opportunity to travel faster across Chapel Hill, excessive speeding poses a safety risk to people walking, people rolling, people riding bikes, other drivers, and yourself. A nationwide study ( from the National Safety Council found that while people drove less during the month of March due to stay-at-home orders, more fatal crashes occurred per-mile driven.

“We ask that people stay cautious while traveling during this reopening period,” said Bergen Watterson, Transportation Planning Manager for the Town of Chapel Hill. “We are seeing more folks using our greenways and moving around their neighborhoods for fresh air and exercise, and we want to make sure everyone is able to do so safely.”

“Although we are seeing lower traffic volumes, we have seen average speeds increase. When speeds are higher, the chances of serious injury or death greatly increase,” said Donnie Rhoads, Captain with the Chapel Hill Police. “We ask that you drive safely and obey the speed limits”.

When driving…

  • Expect to see pedestrians and cyclists
  • Avoid distractions like texting or phone calls
  • Drive cautiously when approaching crosswalks 
  • Slow down at night or during bad weather 
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, even if it is not marked. Stop well back so that drivers in other lanes are able see the person crossing
  • Do not pass vehicles stopped for people crossing 
  • Be aware around parks and neighborhoods with children
  • Be especially attentive when turning, as people walking, rolling, or with a bike may enter the crosswalk while you wait to turn 
  • Share the road with people riding bikes

When walking and rolling…

  • Cross at the corner and use crosswalks when available
  • If you’re not on a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the road and face traffic
  • Double check for vehicles if you’re stepping into the street
  • Remain alert and watch for turning cars 

When biking…

  • Use front and rear lights at night to stay visible to others
  • Obey all signs and signals
  • Use hand signals to communicate what you intend to do


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