As kids head back to school in several areas of the country, a new survey shows drivers need to step up safety habits.  -  Photo:  pixabay.com/EB Pilgrim

As kids head back to school in several areas of the country, a new survey shows drivers need to step up safety habits.

Photo: pixabay.com/EB Pilgrim

Some 41% of drivers admit to speeding in an active school zone, according to a July 2022 survey from AAA. The worst offenders hail from Colorado and Georgia, with a whopping 57% and 47% of drivers from those states, respectively, acknowledging the unsafe behavior.

Approximately 5,000 people in 13 states completed the online survey, which explores driving habits in school zones and near bus stops.

With children now headed back to school in several areas of the country, this time of year can be particularly dangerous. Young inexperienced drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists all share the road in the early morning and afternoon hours. More traffic means there is a greater likelihood of crashes.

Based on the AAA survey findings, drivers could do a lot better when it comes to safe driving habits in school zones.

For example, 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.

School zone safety needs to be a top priority for all drivers. An average of three children are killed every day in traffic crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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