Unsafe driving habits near campus, study says

App info exposes alarming trend



A report card about traffic conditions near schools gives low marks to several Las Virgenes and Conejo Valley campuses included in the national survey.

San Francisco-based Zendrive, a traffic analytics company, examined drivers’ cellphone data from April 2017 and ranked the nation’s elementary, middle and high school campuses according to the number of unsafe driving practices that were observed.

The study showed almost 90 percent of motorists used their cellphones while driving near a campus, and that one in three drivers exhibited unsafe behavior while picking up or dropping kids off at school.

Tech companies HopSkip Drive, GasBuddy and Life360 supplied the data used by Zendrive.

HopSkipDrive is a ridesharing app for parents who let someone else drive their kids to school. GasBuddy hunts for nearby gas stations, and Life360 detects collisions and calls the person involved to check on their condition, according to the three companies.

SAFETY REPORT CARD—Drivers try to remain patient at Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills. The school received a B- grade for driver safety around campus, better than most. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

SAFETY REPORT CARD—Drivers try to remain patient at Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills. The school received a B- grade for driver safety around campus, better than most. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

The apps detected in real time which drivers were tapping their phones screens, braking suddenly and making jackrabbit starts near schools.

Drivers in a public school zone who tapped on their screen and made quick starts and stops resulted in the campus receiving a lower grade on the Zendrive scale.

Zendrive says it embarked on the project to make drivers aware of the consequences of not paying attention to the road.

“The roads around your kid’s school aren’t as safe as you think,” the company said in a statement after studying driver-performance data from 1,770 schools in Los Angeles County and 230 in Ventura County.

Not every local school was included on Zendrive’s report due to incomplete data, though the company promised to update its 2017 school-safety snapshot as more information becomes available. Schools in the following cities were ranked:

Agoura Hills: Agoura High School, B+; Lindero Canyon Middle School, B-; Sumac and Willow elementary schools, C-; Born Learners, D+; Woodcrest Preschool, D+; Montessori, D-.

Calabasas: Chaparral Elementary School, A+; A.E. Wright Middle School, D-; Montessori, D.

Westlake Village: Westlake Hills Elementary School, D+; Kindercare, D-; Oaks Christian School, D-.

Thousand Oaks: Las Colinas Elementary School, B+; Colina Middle School, B-; Conejo Valley High School, C; Hillcrest Christian School C-; St. Paschal Babylon, C+; Thousand Oaks High School, CNewbury Park: Newbury Park High School, C+; at Newbury Park Adventist Academy, D-.

Cellphone use while driving increases the chance of a crash by 20 times, and the danger of striking a pedestrian or being involved in a crash is higher in the 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. drive time, the study said.

Karen Kimmel, Las Virgenes assistant superintendent of business, said her office remains in regular contact with principals and local law enforcement about school transportation safety.

“Distracted driving is always a concern around our schools,” Kimmel said.

Another pair of sobering statistics: Automobile crashes are the leading causing of death for U.S. teens—and schools in urban areas are the riskiest areas.

While driver behavior was responsible for the low marks for local schools, populated metro areas were routinely downgraded because of higher traffic in general, the study said. California and Florida are the only two states to receive an overall F.

Besides cellphone usage, the dangerous conditions on campuses can also be attributed to parents who don’t follow proper procedure at school pickup and drop-off zones, the study said.

Zendrive works with transportation companies to improve the safety of its drivers and to lower accident rates and insurance costs.

The company said it reviewed 3.4-billion driver miles to create the report card for 75,000 schools nationwide.

See the traffic safety snapshot at www.zendrive.com/school and click on the California state map to search by school district, county or city.