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February 23, 2010  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

Big jump in danger zone fatalities

Image by James Kraemer,

Image by James Kraemer,

Seventeen children were killed in school bus loading or unloading accidents in the 2008-09 school year, according to the Kansas State Department of Education’s national survey.

The total is a large increase from the previous school year, in which there were five fatalities — the lowest total on record.

Of the 17 children killed in 2008-09, 10 were struck by their own bus (seven at the back, three at the front). The other seven were killed by a passing vehicle.

Nine of the children (just over half) were above age 10, with the oldest two being 16. The other eight were under age 10, with the youngest being 2.

Twelve of the victims were male; five were female.

In one of the accidents, two students were killed by a pickup truck that struck them at their bus stop in April 2009. A police report said that the bus picking up the children had activated its lights, and traffic was stopping. But the pickup truck was reportedly approaching too fast, and it swerved to avoid cars that had stopped. The pickup went into a ditch and rolled several times before striking the children.

JaLyric Boykin, 7, died shortly after the accident. Her brother Nathan Cooks, 4, died in the hospital early the following morning. Their aunt Danielle Cooks, 14, suffered extensive injuries.

The loading/unloading report, compiled by the Kansas State Department of Education’s School Bus Safety Education Unit, is a collection of fatality accident records provided by state agencies. Onboard fatalities are not included.

The statistics have been collected since the 1970-71 school year. During that year, there were 75 danger zone fatalities, which is the highest total on record.

The report is described as an effort to alert individuals and organizations of the dangers involved in loading and unloading schoolchildren.

“Fatalities continue to occur at the bus stop, caused by a variety of circumstances and errors on the part of the school bus driver or passing motorist,” the report says. “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.”

To view the full 2008-09 report, click here. An archive of the reports from past years is available here.


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Please check the statistics in California. if the fatalities are very minimun (1 in more than 10 years) why not follow CA School Bus laws and regulations? our Department of Education/ Department of Transportation has the best staff for training. Also the CA School bus Instructors state wide are very passionate on the Industry ( I am proudly speaking for all) we would love to help other states. we do not understand why the driver do not physicly assist the kids to cross the street. i think we are the only state that do so. we do not know of fatalities ON the bus but we know about a lot of them OFF of the bus.

Adriana Catledge    |    Oct 23, 2011 09:48 AM

When there are 10 kids struck by their own bus then that only tells me that something is wrong with bus driver's safety procedures. An alternate solution would be to hire an aide on board and also have driver get out of bus to assist students to cross over safely. I feel for the parents of these children and know that there are other solutions to the problem besides firing the driver. One has to know the difference between slow down safety and rush hour madness. I send my prayers to each and every family that has been affected by this lost. Aloha, "Ola".

Yolanda    |    Feb 18, 2011 10:25 AM

I know the district in which I reside has had 3 buses totalled in the last 4 yrs. This is such a drastic jump in the years proceeding. It has to show that the school district IS NOT doing their part in training but no one seems to care. It will take a death for someone to come in and look at the things not being done. Since Kansas does nothing to enforce the regulations that they advise, even when they are reported, they need to accept responsibility. The school district here is blatant in not following the statutes and regulations. The law enforcement seems to be confused as to what their part is and no one wants to rock the local political boat. There has to be outside enforcement when politics is the regulator.

Lynette Russell    |    Feb 26, 2010 08:50 AM

This takes ALL school employees from the State Superintendents, local Superintendents, local Prosecutors, State and local police, even school board members to all work together on this issue. Do not make it a political issue unless politicians can solve the problem all on their own. That would be great! All of us who train school bus drivers are given a serious responsibility. We pretty much qualify these people to operate a school bus full of our friends and neighbors children. Once the driver is highly qualified then it is up to the motoring public to do their part. The police arrest violators, the Prosecutors should then do their part to enforce the law. Now today we have electronic devices that distract everyone. The recent Federal regulations have banned use of those devices on board buses. Some States have made similar laws for the general public. Please do more research on this subject and find out what each accident report discovered. Dig alittle deeper and do a follow up story to these fatalities. I am interested in knowing what circumstances surrounded each accident that took the life of eighteen people.

Dan Luttrell    |    Feb 24, 2010 01:07 PM

In California drivers are required to get out of the bus and escort children in front of the bus on a red light crossing using a hand held stop sign during the crossing. Unescorted children are at great risk during a crossing and should be excorted.

John    |    Feb 24, 2010 07:26 AM

Very sad to read of these deaths. So little is mentioned about the reality that in most years so many are run over by their own school bus. I'm a strong supporter of the California school bus stop model that requires an escort for children crossing the road. Seems especially ridiculous not to insure this level of safety at the school bus stops for young children. There is also now a 2009 calendar year sampling of school bus related deaths available from

James Kraemer    |    Feb 23, 2010 09:10 PM

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