>> Participate in Watch for Me NC

Participate in Watch for Me NC

2021 Call for Communities

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is working with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center to seek out new communities to participate in the 2021 Watch for Me NC program. Communities will be selected through a competitive application process. Applications are due by 5pm on February 1, 2021.

The Watch for Me NC program aims to reduce pedestrian and bicycle injuries and deaths through a comprehensive, targeted approach of public education, community engagement, and leveraging specific law enforcement efforts. Strategies include increasing public awareness and expanding local capacity to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety. Watch for Me NC is a nationally-recognized, award-winning bicycle and pedestrian safety program that is now being emulated by other states. 

Communities that have participated in Watch for Me NC in the past will need to reapply in order to participate in the 2021 program year.

The application for 2021 is now closed. 

An informational webinar was held on Friday, January 8, 2021. A recording of the video is now available.

Eligible Applicants

Each community coalition comprises a unique mix of representation from different stakeholders, but each Partner is responsible for carrying out education, outreach, and enforcement activities through its coalition. Education and outreach activities may be led by any entity in the coalition with experience in public education campaigns and who wish to strengthen ties between safety, law enforcement, and community; enforcement activities require the involvement of the local law enforcement agency.

Eligible applicants include communities with police departments, such as local governments (both municipal and county) and campus police. If the police department is the lead applicant, they are encouraged to discuss their plans to apply with other local government departments, such as transportation, planning, parks and recreation, health, communications/public relations, etc.

What Partners Get

1. Print materials, collateral, and advertising

Watch for Me NC will provide a variety of safety program materials to communities. These materials contain simple safety messages that target key behaviors of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists that contribute to crashes based on common crash types. Print materials can include rack cards, brochures, posters, warning booklets, or other collateral and may summarize relevant state laws affecting pedestrians and bicyclists, support enforcement and education efforts, or be displayed in public spaces and businesses.  Partners should coordinate with transit providers to earn free or reduced advertising space and will be encouraged to share and contribute to social media links and stories, too. Examples of other previously offered materials that may be provided to partners in 2021 include bicycle lights, reflective arm bands, or other functional gear to improve conspicuity and compliance with the law and banners, sandwich sign-boards, or other supplies to aid in enforcement operations or community engagement events.

2. Law enforcement training

Watch for Me NC will offer free virtual training courses for police officers to learn more about state traffic laws affecting pedestrians and bicyclists as well as techniques for staging enforcement events. Training instructors are current police officers with years of experience in developing enforcement and outreach events targeted at improving pedestrian and bicycle safety. Law enforcement agencies participating in the officer training are eligible to claim credits in GHSP’s Statewide Traffic Enforcement Program Reporting System.

3. Workshops for all community coalition members 

Watch for me will offer virtual workshops for all community coalition members focusing on applicable traffic laws and enforcement practices; common engineering countermeasures; crash data, investigation, and reporting; why bicycle and pedestrian safety matters and how communities can take a systems approach to addressing concerns; and more.

4. Progress check-in calls

A monthly, progress check-in call will be facilitated by UNC HSRC staff and each community. These calls will provide an opportunity for communities to discuss planning efforts, share challenges and opportunities, or request technical assistance. These calls will be held monthly for new communities and bi-monthly for returning communities.

New communities joining the Watch for Me NC program for the first time will have the opportunity to attend a half-day planning kick-off meeting. The meeting will be held in the community’s local area with community partners. UNC HSRC staff will facilitate the meeting and conversation to plan Watch for Me NC efforts in each community. Participants will leave with a strong grasp of program components and appropriate targeting and deadlines for their community’s education and enforcement efforts. After the initial kick-off meeting, new communities will participate in the monthly, one-hour progress check-in call.

5. Monthly open hour calls for law enforcement officers

Watch for Me NC will offer monthly open hour calls for law enforcement officers only for targeted assistance for program efforts and other questions and concerns related to pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

6. Earned media

NCDOT secures paid advertising like transit advertising, radio PSAs, or social media advertising through media markets across the state based on the participating partner communities to support local Watch for Me NC campaigns. NCDOT may also assist with distributing Watch for Me NC messaging within local media outlets.

7. Technical support

UNC HSRC  will provide technical support throughout the program, a communications and marketing assistance package and timeline to assist with program planning, templates for letters to District Attorney’s offices, a partners-only listserv, crash data and best practices for using the data in local decision-making, and resources for evaluating key intersections for driver, pedestrian and bicyclist behaviors.

2021 Partner Responsibilities

1. Law enforcement participation in training

Police officer involvement is a critical component to the overall success of the program. Described in “What partners get,” communities will be asked to send select law enforcement personnel to a minimum of three (3) Watch for Me NC 2-hour training courses on topics like traffic laws and enforcement practices, engineering countermeasures, crash data, investigation, and reporting. Select law enforcement personnel in new partner communities must also attend a 4-hour kick-off planning meeting. Each law enforcement agency will be expected to send representatives to the training who will then share what they learn with other officers in their agency assigned to the Watch for Me NC program. Trainings will be held virtually through 2021. Law enforcement agencies participating in the officer training are eligible to claim credits in GHSP’s Statewide Traffic Enforcement Program Reporting System.

2. Law enforcement operations

Officers will be expected to support the Watch for Me NC program in a variety of ways, including performing outreach and targeted enforcement operations related to pedestrian and bicycle safety, with a special emphasis on staged enforcement near K-8 schools. Law enforcement units will be asked to report statistics on the number of violations (warning or citations) processed during enforcement events.

3. Participation in Progress Check-In Calls

Every community is expected to participate in a monthly, one-hour progress check-in call. These calls will be facilitated by UNC HSRC staff. Communities are required to participate to discuss Watch for Me NC local initiatives. These calls will provide an opportunity for communities to discuss planning efforts, share challenges and opportunities, or request technical assistance.

All new communities joining the Watch for Me NC program for the first time will be required to attend a half-day planning kick-off meeting. Each new community is expected to convene the kickoff meeting with at least four stakeholders who will be involved with planning and implementing your local Watch for Me NC program. Select law enforcement personnel in new partner communities must also attend a 4-hour kick-off planning meeting. Other representatives may also include coalition members from public health, planning, engineering, schools or other departments or organizations.

The meeting will be held virtually and UNC HSRC staff will facilitate the meeting and conversation to plan Watch for Me NC efforts. Participants will leave with a strong grasp of program components and appropriate targeting and deadlines for their community’s education and enforcement efforts. After the initial kick-off meeting, new communities will participate in the monthly, one-hour progress check-in call.

4. Use/distribution of program materials

The peak season of the program may differ among participating communities but typically begins in August as partners work to distribute materials and host interactive events to engage diverse audiences on college campuses and across the community. NCDOT will work with partners to secure transit advertising space and purchase radio advertising for PSAs. The program’s success depends on its level of visibility to the public, so partners should also distribute educational messages through social media and seek media coverage from traditional outlets (newspapers, television, radio, etc.).

5. Reporting

Communities will be expected to report on collateral/print distribution, traffic enforcement events, community outreach efforts, and earned media throughout the campaign. Program leads in each community will be expected to provide monthly reports of activities/events held, press coverage received, and enforcement operations conducted. Partner law enforcement agencies are expected the enforcement and public education efforts needed to successfully implement the Watch for Me NC program and report enforcement activities in a timely manner.

2021 Application Process

Communities apply to the Watch for Me NC program via an online application. For ease of use and to see an advance copy of all Watch for Me NC questions included in the application, please see the word version of the application.

Communities are expected to complete the application in coordination with community partners and stakeholders. The application requires information about existing pedestrian and bicycle conditions and how the community will use the resources provided by the Watch for Me NC program to address bicycle and pedestrian safety.

A letter of support from each agency identified as leading the Partner community, the education/outreach activities, and/or the enforcement activities are required.

  • Letters from the lead agency should state that the agency accepts responsibility to serve in that role, attend periodic check-in calls with HSRC staff (bimonthly calls for returning Partners, monthly calls for new Partners), and report local activities in a timely manner.  For new Partners, the lead agency contact must also attend the 4-hour kick-off planning meeting.
  • Letters from the law enforcement agency involved should state at a minimum that the agency will commit to:
    • Sending select law enforcement personnel to a minimum of three (3) Watch for Me NC 2-hour training courses on topics like traffic laws and enforcement practices, engineering countermeasures, crash data, investigation, and reporting.
    • Sending select law enforcement personnel to attend a 4-hour kick-off planning meeting (for new communities)
    • Fully support the enforcement and public education efforts needed to successfully implement the Watch for Me NC program and report enforcement activities in a timely manner.
  • Letters from the education and outreach lead agency should state that the agency accepts responsibility to serve in that role and commit to attending the kick-off planning meeting (for new Partner communities).
  • Letters of support from other organizations identified a members of your local coalition are optional but will be heavily considered in the application review process. These letters should include:
    • A description of the specific role of the member agency in supporting the Watch for Me NC program
    • A commitment to attending attend a half-day kick-off planning meeting (for new communities) as described in the partner announcement.

Please contact Kristin Blank at blank@hsrc.unc.edu if you have any questions or technical difficulties.

Partner Selection

Applicants will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

1. Intra-agency collaboration: Communities with strong existing partners from multiple disciplines (e.g., communications, public health, police, schools, law enforcement, advocacy groups, planning and engineering departments, etc.) are well-suited to perform the activities that are part of the Watch for Me NC program. Agencies with jurisdictions in close proximity to one another may collaborate and submit a joint application. Examples include a joint application from a local government and university located in the same community, or from multiple local governments in an identifiable region. The primary benefit of inter-agency coordination is to maximize NCDOT media-purchasing resources and enhance communications with local news outlets.

2. Leveraged resources: Communities are encouraged to seek donated resources from other public or private organizations to expand the reach of the program. Examples include commitments from transit agencies to provide free or reduced advertising space for external program materials, or volunteer services from a university to evaluate traffic behaviors at intersections before and after the enforcement campaign.

3. Community-focused outreach: Communities should tailor how they will communicate the goals of the campaign according to the unique character of the community or region. For example, a region with significant tourism traffic should describe how they will reach out to visitors as well as residents.

5. Community profile and crash history:  Application reviewers will consider the population size and geographic context of the applicants. The Watch for Me NC program includes communities of all sizes and in many regions of the state. Reviewers will also consider pedestrian and bicycle crash history in the community.