SUMMIT — Thanks to a new campaign by the Summit Police Department, young drivers are paying more attention to driving and less attention to distractions like cell phones.

“Sack the Phone” was introduced as part of Summit High School’s driving education program during the 2017-18 school year, according to Chief Robert Weck. It is also part of a larger effort in Summit to contribute to the continuing decrease in the number of pedestrian accidents.

“Every student in drivers ed will receive this sack that their phone can go in with a drawstring and then we teach them … when you get in the car, sack your phone, put the phone in the bag, close it up, put it on the seat next to you, and then leave it there until you get to your destination,” said Weck. “And that way they’re not tempted to — ‘let me just see, what picture went up on Instagram, social media, or let me just see who texted me.’ so kind of out of sight, out of mind.”

About 300 young drivers have received the sacks so far and the program, sponsored by a local municipal alliance called Shaping Summit Together, will continue in the 2018-19 year.

But not all distracted drivers are young drivers. Weck says older adults are also prone to distracted driving, maybe because “they feel possibly that they’re stronger drivers, that they can get away peeking at that phone or being on it.”

To address this, Weck says, “we’re possibly going to look to see if we can roll this out, where, if anybody wants one they can just stop by headquarters.”

Although some young drivers may find it difficult to abstain from phone use for an entire car ride, Weck hopes they will ask themselves, “‘Why wouldn’t I use it?’ They have a strong, beautiful life in front of them, and why jeopardize that by looking at that text that can wait until they get to their destination?”

Weck says the sacks also contain placards with tips for safe driving, including “no time for texting, check your speed, check your space, scan your mirrors, look down the road. So that’s being really proactive instead of reactive if something all of a sudden happens.”

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