New Jersey town narrows streets to curb problem of texting while walking

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, June 25, 2018
New Jersey town narrows streets to combat problem of texting while walking
Toni Yates reports on the texting while walking problem in Summit.

SUMMIT, New Jersey (WABC) -- Texting and walking can be a dangerous combination, especially when you are crossing the street.

In Summit, New Jersey it's become such a concern that the town is now changing their streets to protect pedestrians and drivers.

Town engineers have reconstructed some intersections, making them more narrow so that pedestrians can get across quicker.

There is more of a 90-degree curve so pedestrians cross faster and cars slow down more to make the turn.

Summit has also painted lines to make the road appear narrower in an effort to slow drivers.

In addition, the town is adding flashing signs and education programs to combat the problem.

With shops and restaurants downtown where many people are walking, Summit is taking extra safety precautions.

"How often do we see people walking across a crosswalk looking like this, rather than looking ahead," said Summit Mayor Nora Radest. "When you step off a curb you should look left and right and look up, you shouldn't be looking down. And yet we're distracted."

Summit is using campaigns to remind people strolling through to be mindful instead of mindless when on their phones.

"We are in a space, we zone out, and we forget momentarily that we're part of a much larger universe," said one resident.

Flashing signs are being installed at intersections to keep people alert. "As a driver approaching the crosswalk, you should be looking to the sides to see if there are people coming to get into the crosswalks to walk," said Radest. "But also this push is for pedestrians to look around before they cross the streets and don't be distracted when they're crossing. You can't assume that a driver is going to see you, so it's a two-way street."

The narrowing of streets is meant to force drivers making turns to take their time and be more aware of pedestrians about to cross.