Making Sense of School Bus Crash Statistics
published on April 05, 2019 by Sonia Mastros
"Is it safe?" Every parent asks this on a nearly daily basis, and understandably so. Parents need to be reassured that their child will be protected when out of their care, such as when riding the school bus. Since any school bus crash tends to make big headlines, that tends to make people worry about school bus safety.
However, in this case, there's no reason for parents to fear: School buses are incredibly safe. In fact, they are among the safest activities of any sort that a child could engage in, and certainly the safest way for a child to get to school. This is information that parents need to know, so we wanted to discuss the topic a bit in this article.
Helping Parents Understand That Riding the School Bus Is Safe
A few years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study of school bus related accidents over the course of a decade, from 2006 to 2015. The results were eye-opening. They didn't merely confirm that school buses were almost totally safe for student riders, but that they were even safer than previously thought.
In the time span they studied, there were just under 325,000 fatal crashes (involving any vehicle) in the United States. Of those, only .4% - about 1,200 - involved school buses in any way at all. And that's out of nearly half a million school buses driving on the roads on any given day.
So, of those 1,200 fatal accidents, there were 1,313 people killed - or just slightly more than one per incident. Of those, only 9% were actually occupants of the bus. The vast majority of the fatalities were other people, either other involved motorists or bicyclists/pedestrians.
According to the report, that left only 106 people who died on-board the bus. Of those, 45 were drivers or other adults. So, in the span of a decade, only 61 children actually died while on a school bus.
That's roughly six student bus riders dying per year in the entire country.
We don't want to belittle any deaths, of course. Any time a child dies is a tragedy. However, that number is so low that, statistically speaking, it's difficult to imagine how it could be much lower. As a few comparisons, in a single year 26,000 children will die from guns, 3,500 will die in swimming pools, and about 12 will die from a dog attack.
The next time a parent asks you whether riding the school bus is safe, the only answer is an unequivocal "absolutely." There are very few safer things in the world that a child might do.
How does your district explain these statistics to parents? Let's talk.