ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury High School senior Elliott Matthiesen sees it too often: Young drivers texting or otherwise fiddling with their phones while they’re behind the wheel.
So the Ledgewood 17-year-old, hoping to become an Eagle Scout, recently completed the design and installation of 22 signs – erected primarily near Roxbury parks and schools - that say “Eyes On the Road Not Your Phone.”
Fledgling motorists are often "so distracted anyway," by the simple act of driving that messing with phones is pretty irresponsible, Matthiesen figures. “I see my peers constantly using their phones (while driving), Matthiesen said. “I think it’s important that my generation has to face themselves and be more aware. I focused on putting the signs by the high school because I’ve heard of so many accidents.”
Matthiesen, a member of Succasunna-based Boy Scout Troop 163, noted similar signs have been installed elsewhere by others. He said he thought doing so in Roxbury would be a good Eagle Scout project.
His first stop was Roxbury Township Manager Christopher Raths. He said Raths and Roxbury Department of Public Works Director Richard Blood helped him determine and comply with the legalities of signs along roadways, such as reflectivity and distance from stop signs and yield signs.
Once a basic design was determined, Matthiesen worked with Tony Cretella, owner of Custom Sign Source in Succasunna to make the signs. Matthiesen said he, several fellow Boy Scouts, his father and others – with help from the sign shop – drilled the signs and applied the vinyl.
Most of the signs are 12 inches by 18 inches. Some are 18 inches by 24 inches, Matthiesen said.
Funding for the project came from a number of sources, said Matthiesen, who’s been involved in Scouting since he was about six years old. “I did some fundraising,” he said. “The Roxbury Rotary Club gave money. I got a lot of support from people at my church.”
He also said contributions came from several area businesses, including Dezine Line Custom Screenprinting, Knight’s Automotive Repair, Giancarlos Bakery and Puffin Jewelry.