Distracted Driving in School Zones
During the 2008-2009 school year, Safe Kids USA conducted the first-ever study of distracted driving in school zones. Twenty Safe Kids USA coalitions, including Safe Kids Washoe County, observed more then 108,000 drivers in school zones in 20 locations around the country, installed signs with safety messages for drivers and then observed the impact of the messages on driver behavior. To coincide with the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, Safe Kids USA released Distracted Drivers in School Zones: A National Report which highlighted the findings of the observations before sign installation.
The report showed that one out of every six drivers is distracted while driving on the roads near schools. This is particularly dangerous because previous studies report that distrated drivers have the same lack of skills as drunk drivers. The research showed that states with laws regulating cell phone or hand-held electronic device use in a vehicle are 13 precent less likely to have distracted drivers in school zones. Not surprisingly, the number one distraction for drivers in school zones was hand-held electronics like cell phones and PDAs. About 10 percent of all drivers observed were on the phone or another hand-held device.
Safe Kids also found the following characteristics of distracted drivers in school zones:
- Unbelted drivers are 34 percent more likely to be distracted than belted drivers
- Afternoon drivers are 22 percent more liekly to be distracted than morning drivers
- Females are 21 percent more likely to be distracted than males
In support of the report’s release, 28 interviews were conducted during a broadcast media tour, resulting in 1 million television impressions and 12.5 million radio impressions. Coverage of the tour included many top media markets such as Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Denver. Safe Kids Worldwide also prepared an article for online distribution showcasing the report, generating 1,262 views online and coverage included Forbes.com, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Boston Buisness Journal, FOX Business News, and Wall Street Select. The 20 Safe Kids USA coalitions that participated in the study conducted local media outreach that resulted in print coverage from U.S. News & World Report, the Reno Gazette-Journal,the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Idaho Statesman, and online coverage at both NorthJersey.com and OregonLive.com