Education and enforcement are at the core of nearly all successful traffic safety programs. North Carolina’s Watch for Me NC program is a comprehensive effort to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths that uses a targeted approach combining public education and high visibility enforcement, strengthened by partnerships with local communities around the state.
The program was pilot tested in four communities 2012, and has expanded precipitously over the years. In 2016, 25 communities participated, and eight new communities have been added for 2017. Watch for Me’s educational materials focus on the most commonly ignored laws that contribute to pedestrian and bicyclist crashes, and also encourage behaviors that can result in large reductions in such crashes.
In addition to citizen education, law enforcement officers receive training on best practices in communicating and enforcing pedestrian and bicycle laws, and agencies use crash data to target enforcement efforts to crash hot spots. As of 2016, communities participating in Watch for Me NC have reported a total of 360 targeted safety operations (primarily focused on driver compliance with yielding laws), resulting in more than 800 citations and nearly 5,000 warnings.
The campaign has received significant public engagement and earned media, and evaluations show not only statistically significant increases in law enforcement officer knowledge of pedestrian and bicycle laws, but also a 32 percent increase in the rate of drivers complying with yielding laws at marked pedestrian intersections. Numerous other states and localities have shown interest in the program, and Oklahoma City has already adopted visual materials and program principles for their own Watch for Me OKC program.