School buses and other school transportation vehicles are usually a safe method for getting children to and from school. But like other vehicles, school buses are unfortunately not immune to accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year an average of 131 school-age children are killed in school-transportation-related crashes, most of which occur outside of the bus or inside of other vehicles. Despite the fact that the crashes involve school-related-transportation vehicles, less than one-quarter of school bus fatalities were actually children.
An Overview of School Bus Fatalities
Between 2006 and 2015 there were a total of 1,313 fatalities of school-transportation-related crashes reported (0.4% of all fatal crashes). However, of those reported fatalities, only nine percent were actual occupants of the school transportation vehicles; twenty percent of fatalities were of those outside of the vehicle, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, while most (70 percent) of the fatalities were occupants of other vehicles.
Of the 113 fatalities that occurred within the transportation vehicles over the 10-year period, 49 were drivers and 64 were passengers. During the same decade, three drivers and four passengers died in school bus body vehicles, which at the time were not being used for transportation to school-or-school-related activities.
Fatalities of School-Age Pedestrians
During this period of time, 102 school-age pedestrians were killed in these crashes. Thirty-five percent of these school-age pedestrians were 8 to 13 years of age. Sixty-one percent of these children were hit by school buses, three percent were hit by vehicles functioning as school buses, and 36 percent were struck by other vehicles that were involved in the crash.
Not surprisingly, more school-age pedestrians were killed between 6 to 7 a.m., 7 to 8 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m. This makes sense, as these are the common times of day during which buses are picking up and delivering children to and from school.
Lack of Federal Law: Is Compartmentalization Enough?
It is important to recognize that federal law does not require school buses to be equipped with seatbelts. While Florida, New Jersey, and New York have laws that require lap belts on school buses, most school buses rely upon the idea of compartmentalization. The idea behind this is that between the heavily padded seats and the high seat backs, children are essentially cocooned and thus protected in the event of a crash to minimize the risk of injury or school bus fatalities. However, compartmentalization is not effective in protecting children in the event that the bus tilts and the children are not in their seats.
What Can You Do?
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