A new report has revealed just how dangerous school zones can be for young people.

The research observed 39,000 walkers and 56,000 drivers in school zones and identified many risky behaviors, including distracted walking by students, distracted driving by those dropping off, unsafe speed limits, unmarked crosswalks and limited crossing guards.

The report, ‘Alarming Dangers in School Zones’, was released by Safe Kids Worldwide and made possible with support from FedEx®.

The observational study recorded middle and high school students crossing the street in a school zone. About 80 per cent of students were observed crossing the street in an unsafe manner. Teens who were distracted were most likely to be wearing headphones (44 per cent) or texting (31 per cent).

In addition to observing walkers, the study also recorded how drivers behaved during drop off and pick up. Nearly one in three drivers displayed unsafe behaviors that endangered pedestrians, like texting, double parking or blocking a crosswalk.

Low speed limits (at or below 20 mph) were observed in only four out of ten school zones. And marked crosswalks were missing in three out of ten crossings.

“With teen pedestrian deaths on the rise, we need to rally our communities to take action to protect our kids,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Let’s commit to slow down to at least 20 miles per hour in school zones, enforce the rules and put an end to distraction while driving and crossing the street.”

Rose Flenorl, manager, FedEx Global Citizenship, said: “This new research draws attention to a problem that all of us can work to solve. FedEx is committed to helping advance road safety best practices across the U.S. and around the world.”

Safe Kids Worldwide is calling on communities to make safe school zones a priority by lowering and enforcing speed limits of no more than 20 mph, installing signs and crosswalks where needed, enforcing smart policies for dropping off and picking up students, and putting an end to distraction while driving and crossing the street.

Download the report and infographic.