Local News

Jaywalkers Face Steep Fines At UNC-Chapel Hill Campus

Posted February 14, 2006

— Some students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say they plan to fall in step with newly enforced pedestrian safety laws, if only for one reason: They can't afford the ticket.

"I'd probably have to call my dad to get the money," freshman Andy Jarvis said. "I don't have a job, and I don't know where I'd get the money."

The university's Department of Public Safety hopes to crack down on pedestrians who impede traffic after safety concerns resulting from a bicyclist and two pedestrians, including UNC professor David Galinski, being killed. Since 2001, there have been 44 pedestrian-related traffic accidents on campus.

"I have been here 10 years. I don't recall three in a row in so few days and it was very shocking to a lot of us," said Maeda Galinski, David Galinski's widow.

Now, violators crossing streets at the wrong time and wrong place will have to pay $135 -- a $25 fine and $110 in court costs -- the same as it would cost anywhere else in Orange County, as well as Durham and Wake counties.

Senior Lauren Beverly understands the reasoning behind issuing citations, but says she is still a bit skeptical.

"I think the message is good," she said. "I just think the fine is excessive, especially for college students who can't afford the big fine."

On the first day of tougher enforcement, campus police cited three people for violating the pedestrian safety law.

In recent years, campus police focused their efforts on drivers, giving out more than 12,000 citations in the past five years to motorists speeding through crosswalks. In the last month, officers have given out 640 verbal warnings and 84 written warnings to jaywalkers and people who cross against the lights.

Maeda Galinski, the widow of UNC professor David Galinsky, who was killed last month while crossing a street, said she plans to help with the safety efforts in honor of her late husband.

At Monday's Town Council meeting, Chapel Hill representatives said the state Department of Transportation had previously denied an upgrade at Fordham Boulevard and Manning Drive -- the site of Galinski's accident -- saying there was not enough pedestrian traffic.


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