>> Cary

Watch for Me NC in Cary

  • Watch for Me NC participant since: 2013
  • Population: 150,00
  • Lead agency: Cary Police Department

Cary is located in Wake and Chatham Counties within the North Carolina Research Triangle. Cary has demonstrated continued commitment to improved traffic safety, and it maintains an active Traffic Safety Team (TST) that partners with the community to provide safe vehicle and pedestrian travel. Prior to joining Watch for Me NC, the TST held 70 education events in 2013 and enforced safe evening driving at 10 DWI checkpoints. Since Cary joined the Watch for Me NC program, the TST and its partners have conducted additional enforcements and education events to improve the safety of all road users.

The Cary Police Department leads the Watch for Me NC efforts and has collaborated with other local and regional agencies such as the Cary Planning Department and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. The Police Department has been active in engaging the media in different education and enforcement activities, while planners and engineers have been engaged in prioritizing necessary pedestrian infrastructure improvements through the development of the Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan. Through partnerships with local schools, the Cary Police Department has engaged School Resource Officers in middle schools and a high school.

Education and Enforcement Activities
Cary continues to improve safety for all road users through a number of education and enforcement events. The Cary Watch for Me NC program is very involved with local schools. One back to school safety program Cary implemented is a “School’s In, Speed’s Out” campaign to integrate crosswalk enforcement and safe driving around schools. The program partnered with a class at Cary High School to develop a video on crosswalk safety and Cary Police visited two area schools to discuss the importance of pedestrian and bicycle safety. Additionally, the Cary Police Department has monitored school crossing guards to make sure they are properly trained.

Beyond working with schools, the Cary Watch for Me NC program has participated in several local events including the Lazy Daze street festival, the Employees Safety Fair, and the NC State Fair. To reach a broader audience, Cary has utilized social media to disseminate the Watch for Me NC message through posts on the Town of Cary’s website, Twitter, and Facebook. Police have also met with HOA members of an area housing development, answered questions about pedestrian and cyclist safety laws, and distributed Watch for Me NC materials. Program materials were distributed to local walking and running retail stores as well. These education activities are balanced with a few crosswalk enforcement activities each year conducted by the Traffic Safety Team at several different locations throughout town.

Key Outcomes
One of the key outcomes of the Watch for Me NC program in Cary is the partnership with area schools. The Police Department has received positive feedback from the schools including parents, students, and the principal at Cary High School. Parents have participated as volunteers and organizers, helping carry out and expand school initiatives in Cary. For example, the Parent Teacher Association sponsored three Walk to School Day events from more remote neighborhoods within the school district.

Also, as a result of the extensive local buy-in and public education, traffic citations and tickets are being upheld more consistently in court. This is significant, because it demonstrates the area’s commitment to safer streets.

Lessons Learned

  • Leverage available information: The Cary Police Department has used specific traffic complaints to pick enforcement locations. There is now a community expectation that the project will continue and that it will address identified needs of residents.
  • Emphasize the state program: Cary promoted Watch for Me NC through advertising that noted, “We’re part of a statewide effort.” Highlighting the statewide nature of the program increased buy-in from decision-makers and potential partners.
  • Select high traffic areas: By conducting enforcement actions in areas with a large amount of non-motorized traffic, Cary was able to generate a lot of attention and induce the largest changes.
  • Be judicious with handouts: Giveaways and distributing free items are great ways to raise awareness. Be particular about where these are offered to give best leverage.

Thank you to Lieutenant Steve Wilkins, Patrick Dunn, and James Groh with the Cary Police Department for providing leadership, time and expertise that contributed to the Watch for Me NC Campaign in Cary and the writing of this profile.