Pedestrians keep staring at phones, so Summit is reworking roads
SUMMIT — For the past few years, the Summit Police Department has worked hard to prevent fatal pedestrian crashes.
"A lot of the information we put out there is about distracted motorists," Chief Robert Weck said. "We want to do the other side of the coin and talk about what we're seeing a lot more of is the distracted pedestrian."
And this year, that includes making physical changes to the roadways — helping drivers to identify places where pedestrians could be crossing the street ... and in so doing, avoid pedestrians who might have their faces buried in their phones or otherwise not be paying attention.
Summit has been adding striping to change and adding pedestrian signals. said the city has also taken a more low-tech approach, adding speed humps to streets where speeding is a continuing problem.
The chief said when people look back down at their phones during crossings, they can easily be hit by drivers who aren't watching what's in their way.
"A lot of pedestrian accidents are caused by left-hand turns. We want to continue to educate to look left, look right, look left again," he said. "You may be right. You may be in a crosswalkY You may have the right to cross, but when you're going up against a vehicle, unfortunately if they're not paying attention and they hit you that's not going to end well."
So in areas where education and enforcement haven't done enough to prevent crashes, Weck said, "we'll talk to our engineer and his department" to make changes to the roads.
Summit police have also made other suggestions for helping pedestrian safety, including:
• If you must use headphones or other electronic devices, maintain a volume where you can still hear the sounds of traffic and your surroundings.
• If you need to talk to person next to you, make a phone call, text or any other action that could distract you from the goal of getting where you need to go safely, please stop and do so away from the traffic flow.
• Have children under the age of 10 cross the street with an adult.
• While you walk, focus on the people, objects, and obstacles around you; wear bright and/or reflective clothing when walking/jogging in the early morning and evening.
• Don't jaywalk. Cross streets carefully, preferably at a traffic signal or in a crosswalk, remaining cognizant of the pedestrian traffic flow and the cars and bikes in and near the road.
• Look up, not down, especially when stepping off or onto curbs or in the middle of major intersections. A majority of pedestrian accidents occur when vehicles are making a left turn at an intersection, so please look around as you cross.
• Never rely on a car to stop; make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to ensure they see you, even in crosswalks.