Nine children, five boys and four girls, were reportedly killed while loading or unloading school buses during the 2011-2012 school year, according to preliminary results of an annual survey.
The National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey has been conducted since 1970, first by the Kansas Department of Transportation and now, for the past two decades, by the Kansas State Department of Education's School Bus Safety Unit. Eight fatalities were reported by states for the 2010-2011 school year.
Results often indicate a school bus was immediately in the vicinity when the incident occurred and seldom reflect when a fatality occurred before or after the school bus was on scene. Two of the most recently reported fatalities occurred in Georgia, including a 17-year-old girl who was killed by a passing vehicle as she crossed in front of her school bus and an 11-year-old boy who was attempting to catch his school bus after initially missing it on its first pass and was also struck by an oncoming vehicle.
The other states that reported a student fatality are Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington State and Wyoming. Four of those students were also 11 years old, on student was 10, another was 12 and yet another was 13.
A KSDE representative told School Transportation News that three of the students killed were going home after school while five others were headed to school and another student was on a school activity trip. Three students were killed while waiting for their morning bus, two were exiting the bus, two were walking to the morning bus stop and two students were walking home from the afternoon bus stop.
Passing vehicles struck and killed six of the nine students while the school bus struck and killed the other three, one at the left-front position, one at the right-wheel position and a third at the right-rear wheel position. Two of the deaths resulted when a Type D transit-style bus hit the students, and one death was attributed to a Type C conventional bus. One of the deaths occurred as a result of a dropped item near the bus.
Four of the incidents occurred on county roads, two on state highways and one each on a gravel road, city street and federal highway. Six of the fatalities reportedly occurred in rural areas. Four fatalities occurred during daylight, while two incidents each occurred at dawn and after dark. One fatality occurred at dusk. The roadway was reported as "dry" in seven of the incidents, while the roadway was described as "wet" for the other two incidents. The weather was reported as "clear" in seven of the incidents, with rain and fog accounting for the other two.
Final results are expected to be published by the end of the year or early 2013 on the KSDE website.