Annual Minnesota Crash Facts Released

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Of the 663 school bus crashes in Minnesota last year, more than one in five were attributed to school bus driver distraction or inattention, according to the Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2008 book published this summer by the Office of Traffic Safety within the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Nearly as many other motorist involved in school bus crashes (23 percent) were also cited for distraction or inattention. Meanwhile, 16 percent of school bus drivers and 13 percent of other motorists failed to yield right of way. Ten percent of school bus drivers and 8 percent of others were following too closely at the time of the crash.

The four student fatalities in 2008 occured in one crash, the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2008 in Cottonwood, Minn., after the driver of a mini-van ran a stop sign and T-boned a school bus. The bus tipped over and was then struck by a second vehicle. The driver of the mini-van

Most of the crashes involving school buses, 226, occurred between the normal school commute hours of 6 and 9 a.m., followed by 196 crashes between 3 and 6 p.m. and 121 crashes between noon and 3 p.m. However, the most injuries, 76, in the late afternoon, 15 of which were tied directly to the Cottonwood crash. February 2008 also saw the most number of crashes at 56, nearly a third of the 188 crashes that resulted in injuries to passengers from birth to over 65 years of age. The age group that sustained the most injuries was 15- to 19-year olds at 34, followed by 10- to 14-year olds at 27 injuries.