Distracted drivers near schools

-- The Allstate FoundationDecember 13, 2012 

Driver focus while passing near California schools has significant room for improvement as observed in a recent study conducted by the students at risk from this distracted driving. Students monitoring nearly 70 intersections near high schools in 26 counties across California for one hour report more than 7,000 cases of distracted driving.

This hourly average of approximately 100 cases of distracted driving per intersection is consistent with the average recorded during last year's study. Traffic volume is not factored.

Student participants in this educational Roadwatch -- funded by The Allstate Foundation and administered by the California Friday Night Live Partnership -- observed a lack of driving focus ranging from talking and texting on the cell phone, to eating and smoking. In three instances, drivers failed to stop at a red light.

Driven by a desire to improve traffic safety in their neighborhoods and to use the research for future safe driving campaigns locally, students compiled these startling statistics from among thousands of vehicles they observed with both attentive and distracted drivers. The top distractions while driving are not surprising. Each is avoidable.

Eating or drinking 2,02830 - per site average

Talking on cell phone 1,10315 - per site average

Texting on cell phone 1,062 14 - per site average

Personal grooming 6129 - per site average

In 2011, the first year of this Roadwatch, more than 6,700 instances of distractions were recorded at 62 sites near California schools. Empowered by their research and armed with 2011 study results, students at Magnolia High in Anaheim successfully obtained funding to have a crosswalk and traffic light installed near their school. Students in Watsonville appeared before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and other traffic safety agencies and obtained priority ranking for the re-engineering of a local street to improve safety.

Additional driving distractions observed by Roadwatch participants included:

Extreme volume on radio: 4437 - per site average

Pet on driver's lap 2924 - per site average

Wearing headphones: 2423 - per site average

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