Every child deserves to arrive at school safely whether walking, biking, taking the bus, or riding with parents. Sadly, approximately 800 school-age children are killed in motor vehicle crashes and 152,000 are injured during normal school travel hours each year.*
Focusing strategies for reducing pedestrian crashes within school zones has long been known to be an effective means of reducing injuries among children.
School zones are areas of reduced speed along a section of roadway in advance of, and proximate to, a school and/or school facilities.
Data points to a safer tomorrow
Critical to designing sustainable solutions that reduce risk for children in school zone areas is the ability to measure critical traffic patterns and driver behavior. GM Future Roads & INRIX developed Safety View, an all-in-one, cloud-based tool that provides data-driven insights from crash data, vehicle data, vulnerable road user data (VRU) and U.S. Census data that works together to help prioritize and measure the effectiveness of roadway safety projects and their impact on the community.
Committed to making a critical difference
In November of 2021 Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a traffic safety initiative targeting safety in school zones in concert with the district’s Vision Zero initiative. Targeted traffic enforcement and education in the areas around schools were launched in each police district. The study then split the district into four quadrants and 27 schools were selected based on geographic location and income.
Leveraging Safety View and publicly available data, the following were analyzed within a quarter-mile of each school:
- Traffic volumes on road segments exceeding 100 vehicles in the a.m. Peak Period (8:00–10:00 a.m.)
- The speed distribution on those roads in 5 mph buckets between 8:00–10:00 a.m.
- The number and severity of crashes recorded in Washington D.C’s crash databases at opendata.dc.gov
Results found that speeding and crash rates didn’t vary much between school zones and non-school zones. Yet, school zone design does appear to have a marginal effect on injury severity, as fatalities and major injuries were lower in school zones. These findings coincide with a recent 2020 University of Nebraska study.
The study went on to find:
- Traffic sign or school zone types didn’t appear to have a large effect on speeding
- More speeding occurs around schools with lower income students than with high-income students
- Certain school zones have discrepancies in signage which may lead to driver confusion
- In line with other research, it appears that build environment is a much larger factor in vehicular speeds than signage or specific operating times of school zones
These findings demonstrate how Safety View can provide transportation agencies with the information they need to better determine where to focus their efforts, measure the efficacy of their improvements and support funds procurement and budget planning. It also uses U.S. Census data, which can help to uncover inequities in safety for distressed neighborhoods and populations.
Safety View is transforming connected car data into the actionable insights that Washington D.C. needs to improve school zone traffic safety. Now other cities are taking this approach to help prevent traffic-related injuries and fatalities on their own roadways. Transportation professionals are welcome to learn more about how Safety View can help them to achieve their own Vision Zero goals by requesting a demo at INRIX.com.
*According to a 2020 report from the Transportation Research Board.