If you look way back in the
record of school bus loading
and unloading fatalities,
which has been compiled annually
for nearly four decades, you
may be alarmed.
In 1970-71, the first school year
reported, 75 children in the U.S.
were killed in the danger zone by
their own school bus or a passing
While that is the highest national total on
record, it’s not too much higher than those
of the years that followed:
62 in ’71-72
58 in ’72-73
73 in ’73-74
51 in ’74-75
40 in ’75-76
45 in ’76-77
54 in ’77-78
The average of the first 10 years on record
was about 55 fatalities per year.
Compare those lofty figures to the
’07-08 school year’s national total, which
was recently released by the Kansas State
Department of Education: five fatalities.
As we report in News Alert in this issue, this was the lowest total
In the previous school year, ’06-07, the total
was seven. Before that, it was:
13 in ’05-06
20 in ’04-05
9 in ’03-04
12 in ’02-03
13 in ’01-02
9 in ’00-01
The average of the past 10 years was
about 13 fatalities per year.
These numbers show how far the pupil
transportation community has come over
the past decades in addressing the risks of
the danger zone — from enhancing driver
and student training, to promoting awareness
of the issue among the motoring public,
to improving and developing new bus
safety equipment (mirrors, warning lights,
stop arms, crossing arms, etc.).
The Kansas State Department of Education’s
annual report, known as the National
School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey,
has also been a valuable tool in analyzing
these danger zone accidents and identifying
patterns. The report provides such details
as location of impact on the vehicle, age and
gender of the student, light and weather
conditions, and type of road.
The Kansas department’s School Bus
Safety Education Unit deserves our continual
gratitude for the countless hours it
spends tracking down the information and
preparing its reports. An archive of the reports
is available at www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=346.
The historically low fatality totals of recent
years are good signs.
But as I’ve heard many in the industry say,
one fatality is still one too many. Complacency
is not an option — we must continue to do
all we can to bring the total down to zero.