With 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 (nsc.org/in-the-newsroom/motor-vehicle-fatality-rates-jump-14-in-march-despite-quarantines) 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”.
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
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
The Town of Chapel Hill is looking for residents who would like to share and exchange information between the Town and residents in their neighborhoods and homeowners associations. Registered participants will receive emails from the Town to share with their neighbors. townofchapelhill.org/residents/neighborhood-liaison-form
A state of emergency is a procedure that allows emergency processes and funding to be put in place to allow immediate response to emergency situations.
A state of emergency can be declared before or after an emergency takes place in an area. It can be declared at all levels of government (federal, state, and local).
North Carolina State Law , Chapter 166A, Article 1A, Part 4 empowers local governments to enact ordinances to declare states of emergency and restrict certain activities during the emergency in order to address public safety concerns arising due to the emergency. The Town Code of Ordinances, Chapter 11, Article V, delegates authority to declare a state of emergency to the Mayor.
Often, a local governing body declares a state of emergency ahead of major events that can be anticipated (ex. winter weather and tropical storms) so the resources can be available as early as possible. Sometimes it is necessary to declare a state of emergency due to an unanticipated event such as a large fire, major water main break, or major accident. This declaration is the initial step in accessing state and federal support, should it become necessary.
Do you live in a floodplain?
If you live in a floodplain or an area that floods, purchase flood insurance! Homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. There is a 30-day waiting period from the time an insurance policy is purchased to when it actually goes into effect. Renters can purchase affordable flood insurance for personal contents only. For more information and cost, contact your insurance agent or go to floodsmart.gov.