Colorado ranked one of worst states for drivers in school zones

Posted at 8:16 AM, Nov 29, 2018

A new survey gave Colorado a D rating when it comes to drivers in school zones. The survey, which was released by California-based Zen Drive, collected data from more than 125,000 schools nationwide during the month of April and went state by state, county by county and school by school to determine ratings.

Colorado was ranked 34th in the country for worst drivers. The survey took things into account like speeding through school zones, distracted driving, rapid acceleration and hard braking.

Arapahoe County was ranked as the worst place for drivers in the state, followed by Denver. Of the 291 schools that were rated in the state, Thomas Jefferson High School was listed as the most dangerous, followed by Stedman Elementary School.

School districts are doing their part to try to slow drivers down. Schools have signs up marking where safety zones start and end, some with flashing lights. Many schools have crossing guards to help kids get across the street safety during key drop-off and pick-up times. 

Denver police said they are also doing their part to try to keep children safe.

“Speeding in school zones is probably our biggest problem right now,” said Officer K. Barnes. “Currently, we do a lot of enforcement in our school zones where we go out and either officers are flagging or they're in a police car and they’re actually chasing people down and enforcing the speed limit for the school zones.”

Denver police said they try to have officers in areas where they receive a lot of complaints about dangerous drivers. They are also working with traffic engineers to make sure every school has signs up marking safety zones. 

Barnes said drivers need to pay particular attention to streets around schools because children can be unpredictable.

“Young kids typically don’t pay attention to traffic. They’re a little bit more focused on everything else and so that’s the reason we have the reduced speeds, so (drivers) have a little bit more reaction time,” Barnes said. 

He said it’s important for parents to also talk to their children about how to safely cross a street.

For drivers, Barnes said the message is a simple one.

“Common sense, be very aware of their speed.” he said. “Please slow down in our school zones.”

There have been several instances during the past year where children were hit by cars. A Chatfield High School was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver back in January.

In August, a CSU student was hit by a school in the morning and the driver ran off. She needed several surgeries to recover from her injuries.

In September, two students in the St. Vrain School District were injured in separate accidents within days of one another, prompting parents to call for changes to be made to keep kids safe. Denver7 called the district to find out what has been done in the months since, however a spokesperson refused to answer any questions about the incidents or safety precautions that have been taken.

Also in September, a student was hit and injured outside Side Creek Elementary School. Another child was injured in an accident near Aurora Hills Middle School that same month.

Most recently, a 14-year-old was hit by a car outside of Orchard Mesa Middle School in October. The driver in that instance was found not to be at fault.