TOPEKA, Kan. — The number of children killed in school bus loading and unloading accidents dropped by more than a third in the 2005-06 school year.
The total, 13, was 35 percent lower than that of the 2004-05 school year, which was 20. The latest number was also below the average of the past 10 years, 14.5.
The fatality statistics on the loading and unloading area — also known as the “danger zone” — are collected in an annual survey by the Kansas State Department of Education’s School Bus Safety Education Unit.
During the 2005-06 school year, the following nine states reported danger zone fatalities: Alabama (one), Georgia (one), Missouri (one), New York (one), Pennsylvania (one), Texas (one), Virginia (three), West Virginia (two), Wisconsin (two).
Seven children were killed by their own bus, while six were killed by a passing vehicle. Of the seven killed by their own bus, at least six were struck by the bus’ dual rear wheels; in the other incident, the part of the bus that struck the child was not reported. In at least seven of the incidents, reports indicated that the children were running toward the bus, whether it was because they had dropped something or because they were trying to catch the bus.
The ages of the victims ranged from 4 to 14, with seven of them being 8 or younger and the other six being 10 or older. More male children (eight) were killed than female (five).
Eight of the incidents occurred as the children were going home. Four occurred as the children were going to school. The other incident took place during an activity trip.
Urban areas were the settings of seven of the fatalities. Six took place in rural areas. The types of road upon which the incidents occurred were reported as follows: city street (six), state highway (four), federal highway (one), other (two). In the majority (11) of the incidents, the road was dry. There was packed ice and/or snow on the road in the other two cases.
The School Bus Safety Education Unit culls these statistics from fatality accident records provided by the state agencies that are responsible for school transportation safety and/or accident records.
Throughout the survey’s 36-year history, there have been 1,144 danger zone deaths. The survey states that it “points 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.”