Study shows which school zones are most dangerous for drivers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A new report shows some school zones could be dangerous right here in Mecklenburg County.

The company Zendrive studied the driving habits of about four million drivers and was able to measure how long drivers used their phones while driving, when they applied their brakes very hard, and when they accelerated quickly.

The study showed that one in three drivers displayed bad driving behavior during drop-off and pick-up times in school zones. The numbers show North Carolina is one of the safest states when it comes to school zones, but Mecklenburg County received a grade of a D.

WBTV checked some schools in the Charlotte area. Metro School, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) District, got an F, and Charlotte Catholic High School got a D minus.

"That's horrible," Charlotte Catholic High School parent Sarah Jones said. "It makes me nervous because I have a child that this time next year will be driving to school hopefully."

Charlotte Catholic Principal Kurt Telford is not surprised by the D minus. He says there are a lot of distracted drivers in the school zone.

One reason for schools having a dangerous school zone is that one in about eleven schools across America are within 500 feet of a busy, congested road. That fact puts 4.4 million students in more danger.

Charlotte Catholic is located on busy Pineville-Matthews Road.

"It's very crowded," Telford said. "Lots of people trying to pick kids up."

Telford says safety is a top priority at the school. He often confronts students who are reported driving in an unsafe manner.

"We'll talk to that student and, many times, call the parent as a heads up," he said. "We also try to encourage our kids to be as safe as they can on the roads - and also parents."

Zendrive also discovered roads near schools during the afternoon pickup hours between 2 and 5 p.m. are 40 percent more dangerous than the morning drop-off.

"I believe it," Telford said. "That's when most of the teenagers are out driving, and they are the most inexperienced drivers."

The CEO of Zendrive, Jonathan Matus, says parents should be aware it's more dangerous in the school zones in the afternoon than in the morning and should make changes.

"If you are a parent and you want to keep your kid as safe as possible, it's better to let them cycle to school in the morning or walk to school in the morning, but come with a car or have a carpool to pick them up in the afternoon," Matus said.

Matus also says this information revealed can be helpful and hopefully gets to the right people.

"Law enforcement can do a much better job if they have information about which areas are problematic versus which ones are safe," he said.

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