School Bus Safety: Get the Facts

Learning the facts about school bus safety can help parents, teachers, and motorists keep kids safe whether they are passengers or pedestrians. Although school buses are the most regulated vehicles in the U.S., crashes and other bus-related mishaps take the lives of almost 100 people each year. These incidents seriously injure thousands more. Victims are passengers of other vehicles, pedestrians, bus riders and drivers, and bicyclists.

Who is Most at Risk for Injury?

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 95 people were killed in school bus-related crashes nationwide in 2017. Between 2008 and 2017, 70% of the deaths attributed to school-bus-related accidents were occupants in other vehicles. About 17% were pedestrians and 3% were cyclists. Only 6% were school bus passengers, and 4% were bus drivers. Between 2007 to 2016, about 35% of those who were seriously injured were bus riders, 8% were bus drivers, and the remaining 57% were occupants in other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.

School Bus Safety By Design

The NHTSA requires a higher standard for safety features for these vehicles that is above what is required for regular buses. School bus safety features like cross-view mirrors, flashing lights, and mechanical stop arms help keep pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists safe. Smaller school buses that weigh under 10,000 pounds or less are required to have working lap seatbelts. While most larger school buses are not equipped with seatbelts, crash protection is provided through compartmentalization. This design protects children in crashes with strong, closely-spaced seats that are built with energy-absorbing seat backs.

Keeping Children Safe

The NHTSA recommends that parents discuss bus safety with their children. This includes:

  • Discussing bus stop safety like arriving five minutes before the bus is expected to arrive to prevent running after the bus and where to stand at least six feet from the curb while waiting for the bus
  • Explaining how to get on and off the bus safely by waiting for the bus to come to a complete stop, the door to open, and receiving permission from the bus driver to proceed
  • Advising to never walk behind a school bus and to cross the street at least 10 feet in front of the bus so that the driver can see the child