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Keeping School Zones Safe Using Technology On Drivers

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Question, how many regulations are in place to keep school children safe from dangerous driving?

The answer is not enough, because students are still at risk as they head back to class this year. But with modern technology, that’s going to change.

In Session: Blasio and Cuomo on School Safety

School zones within the Tri-State area are among to top areas for teen pedestrian deaths, increasing by 13% since 2013 as reported by the global nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) traffic accident data shows that both within and outside of school zones, pedestrian fatalities reached 5,987 in 2016, which was a 9% increase over 2015 and the highest number of reports of that nature in more than 25 years.

To combat this rise, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo collaborated to take emergency action the day before school started earlier this month, reactivating school zone speed cameras after the state legislature let the law expire.

De Blasio, in particular, signed the law to authorize the use of the existing speed cameras in 140 school zones. He plans to expand the use of cameras 150 more school zones, saying the cameras have reduced school zone injuries by 17%.

However, monitoring alone isn’t good enough. Officials have also begun looking into countermeasures against texting and phone use activity within school zones.

The Subject of Phone Use While Driving

Recent studies have also shown that approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of a car at any given time of an average day.

Worse, studies have shown that phone use is more deadly. While any form of distracted driving leads to a risk of accidents, texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.

The Results of a Concerning Study

Cumon and Blasio have collaborated with driving analytics company Zendrive to conduct a study. The agency used their machine-learning algorithms to turn sensor data from cell phones into feasible safety insights about driving behavior for an individual, fleet, or road.

Examining more than 125,000 schools across the country in April, the study used cell phone sensors to decide if over 9 million drivers were safety hazards. Specifically, if drivers were making calls, texting or otherwise using their phones while their vehicle was in motion near schools during peak traffic time periods.

Zendrive reported finding 4.6 billion unsafe driving events and created a nation-wide map.

An Upgrade to Safety Curriculum Across the U.S.

In light of this development, schools across the nation are upgrading their monitoring methods. Portland, OR installed automated speed cameras in school zones to document and automatically send citations to speeding drivers, And Savannah, GA upgraded its school zone flashing beacon signage to a connected, Internet of Things (IoT)-based system instead of the previous personal network with no external connections.

As technologies both new and old such as Zendrive and the beacon system are being considered by the Tri-State area, we hope that other methods can be implemented to keep the U.S. student body safe.