It’s Still Safer Inside School Buses When a Crash Occurs, NHTSA Says


Pedestrians continue to be at the most risk in collisions involving school buses, according to the latest Traffic Safety Facts released this spring by NHTSA.

NHTSA found that 238 pedestrians of all ages were killed from the year 2000 through 2009 in collisions involving school buses or related student transportation vehicles. The number of pedestrians killed who were 19 years of age or older was nearly double that of 5- to 7-year-old children, 108 to 56 respectively. There were 130 school-age pedestrians killed in these types of collisions.

Meanwhile, there were 107 recorded fatalities for all ages on board the school bus or related vehicle during this same period, 42 being drivers and 65 being passengers. Of the 238 total pedestrians killed, 197 were struck by the school vehicle and 40 were struck by another vehicle. An additional 42 “other non-occupants” were killed in these crashes, and 999 fatalities occurred in other vehicles for a total of 1,386 school transportation-related deaths.

The latest data was published in March. The report defines school transportation-related crashes as directly or indirectly involving a school bus transporting students to or from school or school-related activities. Also included in the report are non-school buses functioning as a school bus, such as a multi-function school activity bus or school van.

From the decade 2000 through 2009, NHTSA said that an average of 10 school-age pedestrians are killed each year by school buses and non-school bus vehicles used as school buses. Four pedestrians are killed by other vehicles involved in school bus-related crashes. More school-age pedestrians, 35, have also been killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day. A close second is the hour of 7 to 8 a.m., when there have been 30 student deaths.

For 2009 alone, there was a total of four crashes involving student transportation vehicles and five resulting fatalities. Of school bus body types, NHTSA recorded one single-vehicle crash that year that resulted in one fatality. Meanwhile, there were two crashes involving school buses and at least one other vehicle that resulted in two fatalities.

As far as other vehicle collisions go, there were a total 37 single-vehicle school bus crashes and 43 on-board fatalities associated with those incidents. The total number of school-transportation-related crashes when factoring in multiple-vehicle crashes is 85 with 107 resulting on-board fatalities.

There were zero crashes recorded that involved vehicles being used as school buses and one crash involving a vehicle used as a school bus and at least one other vehicle that resulted in two fatalities.

All told, there have been 345 fatalities since 2000 for school bus passengers and pedestrians. NHTSA said 51 percent of the fatal school transportation-related fatalities from 2000 through 2009 have occurred after a frontal impact. A total of 43 of these types of crashes caused 54 fatalities. Coming in a distance second are impacts to the right side of the school transportation vehicle that resulted in 17 fatalities. Left-side impacts, meanwhile, occurred 11 times that caused 14 fatalities.