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National Survey Profiles Student Deaths at School Bus Stop

The Kansas State Department of Education School Bus Safety Unit released its annual loading and unloading survey that shows a majority of the student fatalities last year were caused by the school bus as opposed to illegal passing vehicles.

With support from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, the 2015-2016 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey revealed that three of the four school children killed this past year in the loading and unloading zone were hit by the school bus. The other student death was caused by another vehicle that drove through the school bus stop arm and flashing lights.

Reporting national school bus stop deaths since 1970, the survey examined fatality accident records compiled by state agencies associated with school transportation safety from across the country. It is provided to alert individuals and organizations of the dangers involved in loading and unloading schoolchildren.

Only the fatalities involving schoolchildren in or around the loading and unloading areas of a school bus or transit bus were used. On-board fatalities were excluded from the data. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia responded to the survey, with Mississippi abstaining.

Three of the four fatalities occured in Alabama, Kentucky and Nevada. Each one involved students or siblings of passengers either being struck or run over by the school bus during loading or unloading. All the victims were under the age of 10.

The fourth incident happened in Florida, which involved an oncoming vehicle hitting a 16-year-old student as he crossed the street to board his school bus. The school bus had engaged its hazard lights and deployed its stop arm.

Looking at the past 46 years of fatality data showed that roughly 73 percent of the 1,230 deaths happened to schoolchildren under 9 years old. When comparing the causes between school-related vehicles and other vehicles, 56.8 percent were linked to the former.

While the survey overs no detailed solutions, it does “point out the continuing need for forceful, advanced instruction to school bus drivers and students, as well as the need to increase our efforts to thoroughly inform the driving public about the requirements of the school bus stop law,” the survey said.

The 2015-2016 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey is only available online.

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