Zendrive School Safety Snapshot: Back to School 2017

How dangerous are the drivers around your kid’s school? Find out here.

Every parent wants to keep their kids safe as they go back to school. But motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, and distracted driving is on the rise. The roads around your kid’s school aren’t as safe as you think.
Get started by finding your kid’s school:
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. On top of that, our recent study revealed 88% of Americans use their phones while driving - definitely a contributor to the one in three drivers showing unsafe pickup or dropoff behavior in school zones. Since distracted driving is a major contributor to traffic deaths, it’s no wonder that last year’s spike in traffic deaths was the biggest in the last fifty years. 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.
Zendrive’s mission is to use data and analytics to make the roads safer, and we’re here to help. We measure driver safety using only phone sensors, and we’ve honed our algorithms with over 30 billion miles of data (and counting!). Thanks to Milliman, the leading actuary in the field, we know our model predicts future collisions six times more accurately than leaders of the industry, which means we can identify both dangerous drivers and dangerous stretches of road.
So we’re introducing the first in a series, and by far the most comprehensive, study of its kind - the Zendrive School Safety Snapshot.
Using our driving safety analytics technology, we mapped out areas around 75,000 schools nationwide and analyzed over 3.4 billion driver miles driven within them, giving us a very broad and accurate safety snapshot of April of 2017. We measured phone use while driving, as well as hard braking and fast acceleration, to get an idea of how safe the roads around schools really are. We came up with safety report cards (A+ through F, of course) for schools, counties, and states across the US.
Here’s what we learned:


For too long, our most vulnerable citizens--children--have been disproportionately killed by motor vehicle crashes. We must do better,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “Communities across the country are embracing Vision Zero and developing better information about the risks people take while driving. We can put this information to use if Congress would pass my legislation to expand Vision Zero grants to communities around the country. We know motor vehicle crashes are mostly preventable, and both you and your kids who drive can take steps to be safer. Here are a few things to do:
1. Share this. If your kid’s school area is unsafe, let other parents and the school board know. Ask if there can be more crossing guards, if the driver’s ed program can be updated, or if the dropoff and pickup rules can be strengthened and better enforced.
2. Have a backup. If you can’t pick up your child during a dangerous hour, find a backup who can. Services like HopSkipDrive in California let you book safe rides for kids. (Get your first ride free with code ZENDRIVE.) And if they’re not available in your area, ask a trusted friend or relative.
3. Take action. Nonprofits like Safe Routes to School National Partnership are working to get support for Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries nationwide. It’s easy to ask your representative to support this initiative.
94% of motor vehicle collisions are from human error. But by working together, we can all make school areas, as well as the rest of the roads, a lot safer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Zendrive do?
  • Zendrive’s mission is to make the roads safer through data and analytics. Our technology uses the sensors in a smartphone to measure driver behavior in real time, which our machine-learning algorithms then turn into actionable safety insights about driving behavior for an individual, fleet, or road.
  • With a total of over 30 billion miles analyzed, Zendrive’s driver safety scores are 6x more predictive of future crashes than the industry standard. Our technology is used by fleets who want to measure and improve driving safety, consumer apps to offer collision detection and emergency response, and insurance apps to measure driver risk. Cities use Zendrive’s anonymized data to make city planning safer. Together, we can eliminate road collisions.
What did this study measure?
We mapped out areas around 75,000 schools nationwide and analyzed over 3.4 billion driver miles driven within them, giving us a safety snapshot of April 2017. Keeping our timeframe to Mondays to Fridays, 6am to 7pm, this spanned nearly four million drivers’ anonymized aggregated data.
What are the stats?
  • 75,000 schools (and all surrounding roads within a 1.2 km by 0.6 km area)
  • 2,222 counties (measured as averages of their school area scores)
  • 3.4 billion miles driven and analyzed within school areas
  • 3.8 million individual drivers in this study
  • 320 million trips
  • 1.3 billion unsafe driving events
    • Phone use while driving (any handheld phone use while the vehicle’s moving, like texting or emailing)
    • Rapid acceleration
    • Hard braking
  • Timespan analyzed:
    • April 2017
    • Monday - Friday
    • 6am - 7pm for overall scores
    • “Morning peak” dropoff times are 7-10 am
    • “Afternoon peak” pickup times are 2-5 pm
  • What do the grades mean?
  • The grades measure the relative safety of the roads around a school. The more unsafe driving events per driving hour (like hard braking, phone fiddling, etc), the lower a grade the school will get.
  • The grades work on a curve. So when you put all 75,000 schools together, the top top percentile, or the absolute safest school areas, gets an A+. The next percentile is an A, and so on.
  • The county grades are a combination of the school grades within them, and the state grades combine all the counties/schools within. Because the curve is done nationally, you might have a county with no F-rated school safety areas.
  • For phone use scores, the more unsafe phone use while driving in a school’s area, the more phones will be highlighted. 5/5 phones is far more dangerous than 2/5 phones. These were also measured on a national curve.
  • Why did my school not show up?
    School areas with insufficient driving data were not included in the final analysis. As we get more data, we’ll release new Safety Snapshots with more info.
    What were the calculations?
  • School Areas
    • Schools were acquired from Google Maps Places API and any building classified as a “school” — some religious schools that may only be open on the weekends, public learning centers, etc. — were included in the study.
    • School area boundaries were defined as all road segments around a school’s location within a standard fixed geohash. Geohashes are equally sized grids on the earth’s surface. We used geohashes with the precision level of 6, which is equal to rectangular grids with size 1.2 km by 0.6 km.
  • Safety scoring
    • School safety scores and rankings are based on unsafe driving events detected by the Zendrive platform per driving hour within school areas.
    • Transportation infrastructure and traffic characteristics around schools - such as highway type, number of lanes, average number of vehicles travelling - were not used to determine Zendrive scores.
    • Unsafe driving behavior data was normalized by sample size weights to account for potential sample and selection biases.
    • Schools within the same boundary definition got the same ranking.
  • Have any more data to share?
  • Top 10 schools
    1. Victory Christian School - Jackson, North Carolina
    2. Hillcrest Elementary School - Silver Bow, Montana
    3. Dunsmuir High School - Siskiyou, California
    4. Martin Luther King High School - DeKalb, Georgia
    5. Georgetown Community School - Clear Creek, Colorado
    6. Kildeer Countryside Elementary School - Lake, Illinois
    7. Expressions Learning Arts Academy - Alachua, Florida
    8. Tyronza Elementary School - Poinsett, Arkansas
    9. Encinal Elementary School - La Salle, Texas
    10. Flatwoods Elementary School - Braxton, West Virginia
  • Bottom 10 schools
    1. Trinity Downtown Lutheran Church and School - Harris, Texas
    2. East Side Elementary School, P.S. 267 - New York, New York
    3. Pegasus School Of Liberal Arts & Sciences - Dallas, Texas
    4. Bessie Carmichael Schools - San Francisco, California
    5. The Covenant School - Dallas, Texas
    6. The Frances Xavier Warde School - Cook, Illinois
    7. Schools of 111 E 33rd St - New York, New York - (Manhattan Academy for Arts and Language, Murray Hill Academy, Norman Thomas High School, Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts)
    8. The Mary Lindley Murray School, P.S. 116 Manhattan - New York, New York
    9. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem School and Valley Beth Shalom Day School - Los Angeles, California
    10. Ferrahian High School - Los Angeles, California
  • Top 10 counties
    1. La Salle County, Texas
    2. Braxton County, West Virginia
    3. Claiborne County, Tennessee
    4. Montgomery County, Missouri
    5. Jackson County, North Carolina
    6. Essex County, New York
    7. Ravalli County, Montana
    8. Nelson County, Virginia
    9. Stewart County, Tennessee
    10. Washakie County, Wyoming
  • Bottom 10 counties
    1. New York County, New York
    2. San Francisco County, California
    3. Kings County, New York
    4. Queens County, New York
    5. Miami-Dade County, Florida
    6. Orange County, California
    7. Los Angeles County, California
    8. Bronx County, New York
    9. Montgomery County, Texas
    10. Walton County, Georgia
  • Top 10 States
    1. Vermont
    2. New Hampshire
    3. West Virginia
    4. Wyoming
    5. Maine
    6. South Dakota
    7. Massachusetts
    8. Virginia
    9. Maryland
    10. North Carolina
  • Bottom 10 States
    1. California (worst)
    2. D.C.
    3. Florida
    4. Illinois
    5. Michigan
    6. New York
    7. Arizona
    8. Louisiana
    9. Nevada
    10. Texas
  • Rural Schools = Safer Roads. Counties with more urban areas and higher population are generally more dangerous. Which makes sense: a greater density of people walking and driving means a higher potential for crashes to occur.
  • Drivers should exercise extreme caution from 4 - 5 pm. Nationwide, the most dangerous time of day near schools is 4:00 - 5:00 pm… so take extra attention and care when in areas where kids walk, bike, or get off buses.
  • Be wary of afternoon pickup times. Drivers around schools during the afternoon peak pick-up time of 2:00 - 5:00 pm are, on average, 40% more dangerous than the morning peak of 7:00 - 10:00 am.
  • Distracted driving gets 40% worse later in the day. Phone use infractions in particular are 53% worse in the afternoon peak of 2:00 - 5:00 pm.
  • Who are these drivers anyway?
    Zendrive has anonymized, aggregated driver data from drivers from our customers and partners all over the country, such as GasBuddy, HopSkipDrive, and more. Some are commercial drivers, some are individual drivers, and all have the power of the Zendrive platform to keep them safe.
    Wait, my school’s roads aren’t as dangerous as you say. What’s up?
    We took a snapshot of data from April 2017. If your school’s had safety improvements since then, they won’t be reflected in the data.
    My school is wrong on the map. Can you fix it?
    We use the Google Maps Places API to get school names and locations. If yours is wrong, please submit your correction to Google.
    What’s next?
    We’re going to be releasing periodic Safety Snapshots as we analyze more miles in more areas. Stay tuned!
    How can I share this info on my site?
  • You can use these high-res infographic images to embed in your site.
  • You can use this embed code
  • Got other questions? Contact us.