Pedestrian deaths prompt public safety ad effort
The deaths hit especially hard because one of the victims was an employee.
In public service spots airing on local radio stations, the owner of Kitty Hawk Kites is urging caution and awareness on the beach’s treacherous roads.
The campaign was already under way when another death, this time of an international worker riding a bicycle on the Beach Road Aug. 7, raised even more concern about the dangers on Outer Banks roadways.
One of Harris’ employees, John Wiley Carlton Jr., was killed July 17 in the Avalon section of Kill Devil Hills as he tried to cross Croatan Highway on foot.
A week later, Lee Stone Crumpler died near Milepost 4 in Kitty Hawk in a similar accident, and on July 26 a 28-year-old woman was killed walking on U.S. 158 in Powells Point.“Our immediate thought was how we could raise awareness,” Harris said. “When you drive down the bypass, you see people crossing on foot, crossing with bikes or riding bikes that just aren’t aware of the dangers.”
Harris has embarked on a multi-platform effort that includes Max Radio of the Carolina’s stations Beach 104, 94.5 WCMS, 99.1 The Sound, Classic Hits 104.9 & 92.3, and ESPN Radio 97.1.
“Our initial thought was if we can help make people more aware, then maybe they will be more cautious, and maybe we can save some lives and (prevent) injuries,” he said.
In the public service announcements, Harris notes recent statistics that 17 pedestrians and 26 bicyclists are injured each year, with an average of three people on foot being killed, while two people on bikes have died in the past five years on the Outer Banks.Harris talks in the segments about the proper way for pedestrians and bicyclists to use local roadways and the danger of standing in the center turn lane of the five-lane bypass. The spots encourage crossing U.S. 158 only at intersections with signals and crosswalks, and mention other ways to safely walk and bike.
Harris also reminds drivers that under state law, pedestrians in marked crosswalks have the right-of-way.
Harris noted the death of Carlton really hit home with employees at Kitty Hawk Kites.
“It really tore up the team that worked with Willey…it was one of those accidents that could have been easily avoided…that’s what eats at you,” Harris said.
Harris is hoping the recent tragedies can bring about a change in how people walk and bike on the Outer Banks.
“Hopefully this will spark more thinking about how a program can be created for education,” Harris said.
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