KANSAS CITY — Six students, four girls and two boys, were killed at school bus stops nationwide while loading or unloading in the 2017-2018 school year, reports the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
The 48th annual National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey published on Sunday found that the fatalities occurred in Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and North Carolina. The students ranged in age from 6 to 15, and five of the deaths occurred in daylight conditions.
“The data we have is only as good as reported to us,” said Keith Dreiling, the school bus safety director at KSDE during a presentation at the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.
The weather conditions in all six deaths were classified as clear with dry road conditions. Five fatalities occurred on city roads, with the other death occurring on a country road.
Half of the fatalities were caused by motorists who illegally passed the school bus. Two deaths were caused by a Type C conventional school bus and one death was caused by a Type D transit-style school bus. Three deaths occurred on the way to school and three occurred on the way home.
Half of the deaths occurred while the students were walking or running to the school bus stop in the morning, while two deaths occurred during the afternoon unloading process and one student was walking or running from the school bus.
Three students were killed on a Friday, two students were killed on a Tuesday and one was killed on a Monday. Two of the fatalities occurred in April while February, March, October, and November had one each.
The survey was first published in 1970 and has recorded 1,244 total student fatalities at their school bus stops. The U.S. has averaged nearly 9 student deaths over the past decade, with a high of 17 in 2008 and a low of four in 2014 and 2015. Nearly 57 percent of the total fatalities were caused by the school bus, with over 64 percent of the deaths occurring on the student’s trip home.
All past surveys are available on the KDSE website.
Charles Vits of IMMI suggested sharing the report with a university for a deeper analysis of the date to identify common causes of fatalities. Charlie Hood, executive director for NASDPTS, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could potentially take up that research and award a grant to an academic institution. He said NASDPTS could potentially broach the subject with Ryan Rahimpour of NHTSA’s medium- and heavy-duty vehicles division, who speaks to the group on Sunday.