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A crossing guard helps students and parents cross a street in front of a Houston elementary school. David J. Phillip / AP

Risky driving behavior around schools is on the rise, with distracted driving due to cellphone use being a major contributor. The most dangerous driving behavior around schools happens during the critical pick-up time between 4 and 5 pm., and at schools in urban areas, according to a study released today by Zendrive, a driver analytics platform.

Why it matters: One out of every 11 U.S. public schools is within 500 feet of heavily trafficked roads, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Collisions due to distracted driving are at all-time high: From 2015-2016, Zendrive found that there was a 14% increase in traffic deaths — the biggest increase in 50 years — with distracted driving a major factor.

You can see how safe the roads around your local schools are here.

Self-driving car proponents say taking humans out of the driving equation will significantly reduce the number of fatalities. But full automation is at least a decade away, said Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus. "It's a silver bullet but it's unclear how fast the bullet is moving and how ubiquitous it will be," he said, referring to self-driving cars.

In the meantime, cities can use this data to know where to send crossing guards, install speed bumps or traffic cameras, or provide incentives for students to carpool or ride buses rather than walk or ride bicycles during peak times of risky driving, Matus said.

Worst states:

  1. California
  2. D.C.
  3. Florida
  4. Illinois
  5. Michigan
  6. New York
  7. Arizona
  8. Louisiana
  9. Nevada
  10. Texas

Best states:

  1. Vermont
  2. New Hampshire
  3. West Virginia
  4. Wyoming
  5. Maine
  6. South Dakota
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Virginia
  9. Maryland
  10. North Carolina

Methodology: Zendrive aggregated and anonymized 3.8 million drivers, 2,222 counties, and 75,000 schools in every state in April 2017. It analyzed the following driving behaviors: Phone use (handheld, hands-free; texting/emailing; and simply fiddling with a phone while vehicle is moving), rapid acceleration, and hard braking.

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.