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Anti-Distraction Apps Work To Keep Pedestrians Alert

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Phones are often blamed for distracting pedestrians and drivers, but that could end with some new apps.

Driving around Manhattan, Frank Riley is testing new, high-tech ways to stay alert.

"It's advising me to wake up, meaning that it's looking to make me move my hand," he said.

The app, called "Anti-Sleep Alarm," also enables his phone to read his facial expressions and warn him when he looks sleepy.

"It's also keeping an eye on my eyes, indicating whether or not it thinks my eyes are closed," Riley said.

As CBS 2's Dave Carlin reported, the app just won a contest aimed at making New York City's streets and intersections safer.

Marissa Shorenstein is president of AT&T's New York office, the competition's corporate sponsor.

"We're distracted more than ever so this is really about minimizing those distractions, but not throwing the tech away—embracing the fact we all use it, but hoping to ensure it becomes part of the solution and not the problem," she said.

Another contest-winning app, "TUG," puts more protection in the palm of your hand, as in it's tugging you back to where it is safe.

Equipped with the TUG app on his phone, Dan Levine multitasks as he walks up to a busy intersection.

As he gets closer to the intersection, a warning covers up and call, text or web search ordering him to look up.

"I hope this takes off for the safety of everybody," Levine said.

For this to work, bluetooth devices must be installed on crosswalk signs at every intersection. But as Carlin reported, the city has no plans to do that just yet.

"This is an extra layer, a way to protect yourself," Kim Wiley-Schwartz with the NYC Department of Transportation said.

City transportation officials were on hand to congratulate winning teams, thanking them for finding ways to take safety up a notch.

Other winning apps include "Rider Alert," which warns drivers when bikers are nearby, and "Safe Drive," a game that rewards drivers with points and prizes for time spent not texting.

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