Back To School Safety

By: James Emery

School is back in session, and along with buses and excited students, drivers need to be on the lookout for pedestrians distracted by electronic devices.

Since 2013, the number of 12- to 19-year-old pedestrians killed has increased 13 percent. During that same time frame, high-school-aged students were observed walking distracted 35 percent more – 20 percent in 2013 versus 27 percent in 2016.

A Safe Kids Worldwide 2016 study showed that while 15-19 year olds made up only 26 percent of all children 0-19, they made up half of pedestrian fatalities. In fact, five teen pedestrians are being killed each week in the United States.

A contributing factor may be that distracted walking is on the rise. The study showed that one in four high-schoolers were distracted by texting, talking on the phone or listening to music with headphones while crossing the road near their school.

Girls were more likely to be distracted by texting or talking (58 percent), while boys were more likely to be distracted by listening to music with headphones (51 percent).

The study showed that distracted walking, along with other factors, led to only 20 percent of students crossing the street safely. Eighty percent of students exhibited unsafe behavior including crossing against the lights, not looking before crossing and not crossing at a designated crossing.

Additionally, the study identified that nearly one in three drivers engaged in unsafe behavior during dropping off and picking up their student. The drivers double parked, stopped in the middle of the crosswalk and parked across the street from the drop-off lane or school. Additionally, one in 10 of those drivers were observed using a mobile device after they dropped off their student.

For more information, contact WYDOT Senior Public Affairs Specialist J.L. O’Brien at 307-777-4439 or j.obrien@wyo.gov.