WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– New Hanover County ranks high for pedestrian and bike crashes.
Local law enforcement joined the “Watch for Me NC” safety campaign. New Hanover County ranks in the state’s top ten for pedestrian and bicycle accidents.
“A lot of drivers, they’re not looking for pedestrians,” Durham bike cop David Buonsignore said. “They’re not looking for bicycles. They’re just looking for other vehicles.”
Buonsignore thinks this is why he was hit while on duty.
“They don’t realize that bicyclists have as much right as they do on the North Carolina roadways,” Buonsignore said.
James Gallagher of the University of North Carolina Highway Research Center says the “Watch for Me NC” safety campaign was formed to change that problem.
“There are some misconceptions amongst the general public and officers about what the laws say in North Carolina,” Gallagher said.
For pedestrians, it’s jaywalking.
“Jaywalking in North Carolina is very narrowly defined.”
Gallagher says unlike other states, pedestrians in North Carolina can cross the street without a crosswalk as long as they yield to cars. Today eight different law enforcement agencies in the county were educated on enforcing the laws for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“I see the hazards,” Buonsignore said. “I see how dangerous it could be for people who actually enjoy riding their bike everyday for exercise or transportation.”
Gallagher says it is important that the drivers, officers, and pedestrians are educated on the laws of the roadways. The county is also looking into adding more crosswalks and bike paths.