The Matter of School Bus Traffic Safety

School Bus Traffic Safety

A 4th-grade South Carolina student was struck by a school bus while riding his bicycle on school property.  The bus was pulling out of the bus loop by the school when it struck the young man.  The student was wearing a helmet, and was responsive as of the date of the story.  This story is an example of the dangers faced by schools every school day, especially with school bus traffic safety.

School Bus Traffic Safety

School Transportation-Related Incidents are the leading cause of deaths in K12 schools.

The #1 Cause of Death in K12 Schools

Active Shooter Incidents get a tremendous amount of press, with comments on them even being made by the President of the United States.  Yet, according to a 2014 observational study on the various causes of fatalities in U.S. K12 schools, Active Shooter Incidents ranked fourth.  The number one cause of fatalities?  School Transportation related incidents.

The study Relative Risks of Death in US K12 Schools reviewed various causes of fatalities in schools from 1998 to 2012, a 15 year period.  The top five known causes were, in order, School transportation-related incidents, school homicides, school suicides, Active Shooter Incidents, and interpersonal disputes.  During that 15-year period, there were 525 school transportation-related fatalities, 489 school homicides, 129 school suicides, 62 fatalities in Active Shooter Incidents, and 49 deaths from interpersonal disputes.

Are Schools Focusing on the Right Things?

Based on these numbers, a student is just under nine times more likely to be hurt in a school transportation-related incident than an Active Shooter Incident.  Keeping that in perspective, school transportation-related incidents account for less than one percent of all traffic accidents.

All this data begs the question, what are schools doing to address school bus traffic safety?  Student drop off and student pick up times are the most dangerous times a school faces, everyday.  Has school administration developed a way to keep buses and parents separated, and those two separated from walkers and bike riders?  Older schools often do not have these considerations in their designs, so it is up to the administration to develop suitable plans.  Newer schools often have these areas separated, but it will still take human supervision for proper school bus traffic safety.

The good news is that such planning usually only costs the time to create the plan, and train the staff in proper supervision.  However, once the plan is made, it should be frequently assessed to make sure it is addressing the often changing needs of the students and parents.  School bus traffic safety is not a one-and-done affair

Let’s spend some time preventing those things that are more likely to happen.