It’s not just confirmation bias — a lot of people really are driving unsafely in Muscogee County, according to a new study from driving analytics company Zendrive.
They analyzed nationwide data from 320 million trips, 3.8 million drivers and 3.4 billion miles driven to determine how safe drivers were when they got close to school zones. The study ranked states, counties and even individual schools on a scale from A+ to F.
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Muscogee County nearly flunked out with a “D+” score. That placed it at right around average for Georgia, which got an overall grade of “D.” It was the 50th worst county for driver safety in Georgia, out of 104 counties measured. Walton County ended up in last place on the list, with most metro-Atlanta counties close behind.
Harris County fared much better, snagging an “A” score and claiming the title of 8th safest county for school driving safety in Georgia out of counties measured.
Russell and Lee Counties in Alabama both got ‘D’ scores.
The study was created by using data from drivers’ cell phones. The company worked with partners like GasBuddy, Life360, HopSkipDrive and others to measure data like driving speed, aggressive braking and whether or not someone was using their phone while driving.
Some of the findings aren’t especially surprising. Roads in rural areas, which see less traffic as a rule, were generally found to be much safer than roads near urban schools. The study also found that the most dangerous time to be on or near roads near schools is between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. — roughly when high schools tend to release students.
ZenDrive said its mission is to use data and analytics to make the roads safer, and this study is a part of that.
“Roughly one in every 11 public schools nationwide is within 500 feet of roads with heavy traffic like highways, putting 4.4 million students in extra danger. As kids are increasingly getting to school on foot, bike, and bus, it’s on us to take responsibility for their safety when driving near schools,” said wrote Zendrive.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, and about 25 percent of them are caused by texting and driving. Since the study found that 88 percent of drivers use their phones while driving, those numbers could be expected to stagnate or rise unless significant changes are made.
“For too long, our most vulnerable citizens — children — have been disproportionately killed by motor vehicle crashes. We must do better,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who spoke about using the information to help inform legislation in Congress. “We know motor vehicle crashes are mostly preventable, and both you and your kids who drive can take steps to be safer.”
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE