Nine children were killed in school bus loading and unloading accidents in the U.S. in the 2011-12 school year, according to the Kansas State Department of Education's (KSDE) forthcoming national report.
The number of danger zone deaths was slightly higher than that of the previous school year, 2010-11, which had eight.
In 2011-12, the majority of the loading and unloading fatalities — six of the nine — were caused by a vehicle passing the school bus.
Of the three children who were killed by their bus, one was struck at the left front side of the bus, one was struck by the right front wheel and one was struck at the right rear of the bus.
Another noteworthy finding of the 2011-12 report is that all of the children killed were at least 10 years old. By contrast, in 2010-11, six of the eight children killed were under age 10.
The loading/unloading report is compiled annually by KSDE's School Bus Safety Education Unit. It is a collection of fatality accident records provided by the state agencies responsible for school transportation safety and/or accident records. Onboard fatalities are not included.
Here are more details on the 2011-12 loading/unloading fatalities.
Gender: There were five males and four females killed.
Age: Five of the children killed were 11 years old. One was 10, one was 12, one was 13 and one was 17.
Conditions: There were two accidents at dawn, four in daylight, one at dusk and two in darkness. The weather was described as clear in seven of the accidents. In one case, there was rain; in another, there was fog.
Type of area: Six of the accidents were in rural areas; three were in urban areas.
Type of road: There were four fatalities on county roads, two on state highways, one on a federal highway, one on a city street and one on a gravel road.
State: There were two fatalities in Georgia, one in Pennsylvania, one in Mississippi, one in Nevada, one in Iowa, one in Washington, one in Tennessee and one in Wyoming.
The loading/unloading 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.”
The full 2011-12 report will later be made available on the KSDE website, which also includes data from previous years.