School Transportation News obtained the latest figures on student fatalities reported by all 50 states in the 2010-2011 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey, which reported a total of eight student deaths.
According to the 41st annual survey, compiled by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) but which has yet to be published, seven males and one female were killed. Six of the students were ages 6 to 8 and two were ages 10 to 17. The total number of student fatalities was five fewer than reported in the 2009-2010 survey.
Four students were killed by a school bus — three by a Type C conventional and one by a Type D transit-style bus — and the other four students were killed during an illegal passing of a stopped school bus. Three of the four students killed by a school bus were located at the rear of the vehicle when the incident occurred. Three students were killed while getting off of the school bus during the afternoon route, and two students were killed while waiting at the morning bus stop. One student fatality occurred while walking to the morning bus stop, and two fatalities were listed as “other.”
Breaking it down further, three of the eight children were killed after getting off the school bus in the afternoon, two were waiting at the bus stop in the morning, two were located in an area labeled in the survey as “other,” and one student was walking to the bus stop in the morning. Out of the three students who were killed after exiting the bus, one died after an object was caught in the school bus loading door.
The 2010-2011 survey reports that weather was not a major factor in the student fatalities. Seven of the incidents occurred in clear daylight and one occurred in cloudy conditions. Road conditions were dry in every single instance. Two incidents each occurred on state highways, country roads or some “other” type of road. One fatality each occurred on gravel and on a city street.
The state of Georgia reported two student fatalities, while Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas all reported one. All but one of the fatalities occurred on a Monday or Tuesday, and five of the eight fatalities during the months of January (two), February (one) and March (two). One fatality each occurred in May and October.
The national survey began in 1970 when 26 states reported 75 total student fatalities, and is based on the fatality accident reports each state agency provides based on school transportation safety and/or accident records. KSDE notes that these the 2010-2011 figures are only as accurate as what the reporting agency has provided. Additionally, the only fatalities reported for this survey are those that involved school children in or around the loading and unloading areas of a school bus or transit bus. The survey does not include on-board fatalities.