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Why teen pedestrians are at risk in school zones

Posted by Ken Doane | May 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

School zones should be safe areas for middle and high school students in Indiana to cross streets as they approach their schools. According to, though, school zones have many of the same dangers common to any city street. 

The organization conducted a study in 2016 to see how teens and drivers behaved in school zones, and the research results indicated high-risk behaviors from all sides. Out of 39,000 students, one in six in middle school and one in four in high school were walking while distracted. Of these, 44 percent were wearing headphones, and 31 percent were texting. 

Even if students were behaving unsafely, the safety criteria for the school zone should have offered them protection, right? Parents shouldn't count on it. In fact, many of the interventions that should have been there simply weren't. A safe speed limit of 20 mph was only set in about four out of every 10 school zones. Three out of every 10 school crossings did not even have marked crosswalks. Perhaps worst of all, the drivers there to drop off and pick up students were compromising the teens' safety. Nearly one in three drivers displayed unsafe behavior during drop-offs and pick-ups.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School notes that school zones usually involve only the roadways directly adjacent to the buildings, and typically only extend for one or two blocks in every direction. Beyond poorly marked pick-up and drop-off areas and crosswalks, poor signage and little enforcement, that organization noted that teens often face other high-risk situations, such as damaged or blocked sidewalks, crosswalks with poor visibility, and even areas with no sidewalks at all. Many students have no choice but to walk in the street.

Recommendations for improved safety include signs with flashing lights, changeable messages and speed feedback for drivers. Enforcement is another key to keeping teens safe as they walk to school.

About the Author

Ken Doane

Ken is an experienced personal injury attorney and practices in southern Indiana and the metro Louisville area. Ken and his team handle every aspect of his clients' cases from pre-suit settlement negotiations through jury trial and appeal, if necessary. He has practiced for over 22 years and has ...


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