The Division of Student Life at the University of Maine and the Orono Police Department are working together to raise awareness for pedestrians in the Orono area. The motive behind the Heads Up Campaign came from the numerous complaints that Orono Police Department received in regards to pedestrians feeling unsafe at crosswalks.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Data from 2004 to 2007, 11 percent of all fatalities in crashes have been pedestrians. The number fluctuated to 14 percent in 2013 where 4,735 pedestrians were killed in crashes.
“While we didn’t have any hard data to suggest that pedestrians in crosswalks were at risk, the anecdotal information seemed compelling and we wanted to stay ahead of the problem,” Josh Ewing, Chief of Orono Police, said.
Orono Police Department reached out to Kendra Schelle, assistant vice president of Student Life, in order to find a way to effectively reach students on campus with the message to drive safely and always stop at crosswalks.
“We are expecting to raise awareness for both drivers and pedestrians to be ‘Heads Up’ when it comes to traveling or crossing roadways,” Ewing said.
Ewing and Schelle are using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to reach out to students on campus as well as the First Class conferencing system and the Marketing and Communications Office. Students are encouraged to like and follow the pages and to pass the word on to their friends.
The social media sites will remind students to only cross on a crosswalk, to avoid wearing dark clothing at night, and to pay attention when crossing the street. Drivers are reminded to stop at crosswalks when pedestrians are crossing and to avoid driving with any distractions.
“Our main goal with this campaign is to keep people safe, and if drivers and pedestrians all work together it should be an easy goal to obtain,” Ewing said.
The UMaine Police Department (UMPD) also agreed to help out with the campaign after the educational piece is complete.
Students can also get involved with the campaign by contacting Roland Lacroix, Chief of UMPD, or Schelle.
“Maine has seen a recent increase in accidents involving pedestrians and this is one way we’re trying to battle that trend,” Schelle said.