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The biggest threat to kids at school? Not guns or drugs - it'scars

While every parent knows that today's school zones are not the safe havens of yore, most probably believe the biggest threat to students are guns or drugs. In fact, it's cars. As a result of overcrowding, ever more students are driving or being driven to school. Due to increasingly complex traffic patterns, traffic accidents are the top killer of children in school zones, not just in the United States, but around the globe.

In the U.S., 184 school-age pedestrians were killed by cars between 1994 and 2004, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA). Of all vehicle types, buses were most often involved in these accidents, but 31 percent of children were struck by a non-school vehicle. Nearly half of all school-age pedestrians killed in school transportation-related crashes were five to seven years old, a figure that reflects young children's limited impulse control and discretion when crossing traffic.

A recent Canadian study confirmed that school zones are the most dangerous places for young pedestrians. It found that the 150-meter radius around a school zones had a significantly higher rate of child-car collisions and higher proportion of fatalities than areas 300 or more meters away; 50 percent of those collisions occurred during times of the year and times of day when children were most likely to be walking to or from school.

Speed is a primary culprit. The risk of fatality in a car-pedestrian collision increases from five to 85 percent as car speeds double from 20 to 40 miles per hour, according to the United Kingdom's Department of Transportation.

Another issue in school zones is distracted driving--that is, eating, texting, talking on cell phones, and primping in the mirror. These actions take drivers' attention away from the road, slowing reaction time and increasing the risk of crashing. The average driver, rolex replica watches under ideal conditions, takes about one quarter of a second to identify a hazard (such as a child running out suddenly), the same amount of time to process the situation, another quarter-second to decide how to avoid the situation, and three quarters of a second to act. At 33 miles per hour, that totals 104 feet, or 30 meters, of braking distance for an alert driver on a dry road. Inattentive drivers require an additional 33 feet for each second they are distracted.

To slow down and perk up drivers, cities and states have lowered speed limits, increased signage around school zones, and posted police to enforce these laws. From "School Zone" signs with flashing lights to stop sign-bearing crossing guards in yellow vests to neon "Watch Out For Children" warnings, signage is a critical formaking drivers attentive. According to the child-safety network Safe Kids USA, distracted drivers were observed more frequently in school zones without flashing lights. Designating pick-up and drop-off zones have also been proven effective as a way to contain and protect young pedestrians.

Safe Roads to School Charts Chart Source: Safe Roads to School

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