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Everybody sucks at driving safely around schools, study finds

Slow your roll, folks. Children have a hard time defending against 2,000-pound masses of metal.

These days, in a world filled with cars that can read street signs, you'd think people might be cognizant of school zones and how to drive safely in them. But according to a new study, you'd be dead wrong.

Zendrive published a sobering study looking at how drivers act in US school zones, and to be frank, humanity might want to be ashamed of itself here. According to the study, between 2017 and 2018, there was no improvement in driver behavior near 60.4 percent of US schools. 30.1 percent of schools saw driver behavior get worse, and it got better for just 9.5 percent of schools.

Zendrive's study looked at a database of schools that comprised 71,282 elementary schools, 40,343 middle and high schools and 14,000 schools of varying mixed grades. That mix covers 90 percent of US schools, encompassing every county in the contiguous US. Zendrive then compared that map against anonymized driver data that covered frequency of phone use, speeding, hard braking and "aggressive acceleration." The data covers approximately 10.5 billion miles of driving by 9.1 million drivers.

The group took all that data and assigned each school a grade based on the frequency of bad-driving events, putting it all on an interactive map that anybody can use to see the driving-safety grades of nearby schools.

It's not going to kill you to drive 25 for a mile, and ignoring that suggestion could very well end up harming somebody else.

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As an example, I looked at my current home state of Michigan, which Zendrive ranks as the 44th best state for school-zone driving safety -- not a great start. My county, Wayne, ranks as the worst county in the state. The closest school to my house, Pasteur Elementary School, ranks 554th out of 668 schools in the county, worse than a year ago. The school zone received F grades in aggressive acceleration, hard braking and phone use. It only got a C in speeding, though, which is slightly reassuring considering it's smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood.

Zendrive also broke the results of its study down by location. Schools in cities had the worst incidences of bad driving behavior, but it was also the location that improved the most over last year. Rural schools had the lowest rate of bad driving behavior, but it also featured the least improvement over 2017's results.

According to Zendrive, traffic crashes are the primary cause of injury-related deaths in US schoolchildren. Make use of Zendrive's map, see just how bad (or good, possibly) your local schools are rated and keep that in mind the next time you drive through a school zone.

(Hat tip to Automotive News!)

Recalls: Now that you've got safety on the mind, catch up on all the latest recall-related news.

2019 Honda HR-V: Want to prioritize safety in school zones? Simply buy a car that's not very quick, like this one.