As the school year — and road usage — once again ramps up, a new survey released by AAA revealed some concerning statistics regarding driver behavior in school zones.
Some 41% of drivers admit to speeding in an active school zone. The worst offenders hail from Colorado and Georgia, with a whopping 57% and 47% of drivers from those states, respectively, acknowledging the unsafe behavior.
In Florida alone, survey respondents said:
- 38% admitted to speeding in an active school zone.
- 32% admitted to using their hand-held cell phone while driving in active school zones.
Additionally, 29% of total survey respondents said they have used a handheld cell phone while driving in an active school zone. The worst offenders were Colorado drivers, with 40% admitting to cellphone use. South Carolina drivers followed that with 34% acknowledging the behavior, then Georgia (33%), Florida (32%), and Nebraska (31%).
But speeding and cellphones are just the tip of the iceberg. Some 21% of total survey respondents own up to making an illegal turn during active school zone hours. Once again, Coloradoans were the biggest violators, with 34% owning up to the unsafe behavior. In addition, 25% of drivers in three other states — Florida, Georgia, and Illinois — all acknowledged making an illegal turn in a school zone.
The survey also examined driver behavior in relation to school buses. Some 19% of total respondents say they have driven around a school bus while its flashing red lights are on. Colorado and Florida drivers appear to be the most impatient, with 32% and 23%, respectively, admitting to going around a bus.
Drivers aren’t above cutting off a school bus if they feel it’s traveling too slow, either. In fact, 20% of total respondents admitted they had cut off a school bus.
And when asked how they react when approaching a school bus with overhead red flashing lights, only 82% said they stop and wait for the lights to turn off before proceeding. Another 10% claim they slow down and pass with caution while 8% admit they go around the bus as they would with any other vehicle.
“This time of year can be particularly dangerous on the roads, because you have a higher concentration of vehicles and foot traffic near schools, throughout neighborhoods and city streets,” Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group, told School Bus Fleet. “Whether you’re driving your family car, a bus, or a fleet vehicle, we all play a critical role in ensuring the safety of the people sharing the roads with us. Please follow the ABCs of traffic safety: avoid distractions, back up carefully, cellphones down, and slow down.”
Approximately 5,000 people in 13 states completed the online survey, which explores driving habits in school zones and near bus stops.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of three children are killed per day in traffic crashes. Last year in Florida, 302 child pedestrians were killed, and more than 10,000 were injured. Additionally, according to crash data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 82 children were killed and more than 9,000 were injured while riding their bicycles.