School Crossing
Students in school zones are put in danger by a rise in distracted driving. Senior Airman Sarah Hall-Kirchner/U.S. Air Force

School zones are an increasingly dangerous dangerous place for students, as streets intended to be made safe for children to cross are put at risk by distracted drivers who use their phone while behind the wheel.

A new study by Zendrive analyzed more than four million drivers in about 2,000 counties across the United States and determined the safest and most dangerous school zones throughout the country.

The list of most dangerous states for students put at risk by distracted driving was topped by California. The state known for housing tech powerhouses and startups had three of the top 10 most dangerous counties for students as well. San Francisco County ranked third, Orange County ranked sixth and Los Angeles County was seventh.

California was followed by Washington, D.C. as the most dangerous place for students—perhaps explained by the political class who are likely glued to their phones for the purposes of work and news watching. Florida, Illinois and Michigan rounded out the five worst areas, with New York taking sixth despite hosting four of the most dangerous counties in the country when it comes to drivers near school zones.

Michigan was the worst state in the country in the categories of distracted phone use and aggressive acceleration near school zones, with Florida and California ranking second on each list, respectively. California took the worst post for hard braking near schools, while Michigan slipped to the second spot in that category.

In general, Zendrive found the most dangerous driving around school zones was between 4 and 5pm, a period in which many students are still being picked up or leaving from school or extracurricular activities.

Luckily, not all areas are as much of a risk to school children. Vermont was the safest state in the country for students, followed by New Hampshire, West Virginia, Wyoming and Maine. None of the states are particularly known as tech havens—perhaps for the better as it relates to the safety of students and drivers.

The safest county in the country was La Salle County, Texas—a tiny county in the state not far from the Mexico border. La Salle County was joined by Braxton County, West Virginia and Claiborne County, Tennessee as the safest for students thanks to a lack of distracted drivers.

According to Zendrive’s data, the safest school in the country based on the risk of distracted driving was Victory Christian School in Jackson County, North Carolina. The private, Baptist school in North Carolina’s 11th District has just 90 students.

Meanwhile, the most dangerous school in the country was Trinity Downtown Lutheran Church and School located in Houston, Texas. The school in the country’s sixth largest city teaches about 1,400 students.

Zendrive’s data is collected from sensors in more than 3.8 million mobile devices. The company focused on driving around 75,000 schools in more than 2,000 counties and was taken throughout the month of April of this year.

An earlier study published by Zendrive found 88 percent of drivers in the U.S. use their phone while they are behind the wheel—a clear and present risk for the one out of every 11 public schools in the country that are just 500 feet from heavily trafficked roads.