Safety

Motorists Ran Stop Arms in Half of 6 Danger Zone Deaths in 2017-18

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on November 1, 2018
Six students were killed in school bus loading and unloading accidents in the 2017-18 school year. Half were attributed to vehicles passing school buses. File photo courtesy NHTSA
Six students were killed in school bus loading and unloading accidents in the 2017-18 school year. Half were attributed to vehicles passing school buses. File photo courtesy NHTSA

Six students were killed in school bus loading and unloading accidents in the 2017-18 school year, according to the latest report on these types of fatalities.

The school bus danger zone deaths in the most recent school year on record is slightly lower than the previous school year, 2016-17, in which there were eight such fatalities. The number in that school year was double the number of danger zone deaths that occurred in both the 2015-16 and 2014-15 school years. (That year the number of such fatalities was the lowest in the 45 years on record.)

The national school bus loading and unloading fatality statistics are collected every year by the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE’s) School Bus Safety Unit.

During the 2017-18 school year, three of the loading and unloading fatalities (50% of the total) were attributed to a vehicle passing the school bus. The students were struck by the school bus in the other three incidents: one by the right front wheel and the other two by the right rear dual wheels.

In all three incidents in which the student was killed by a vehicle passing the school bus, the bus had its stop arm extended and its red lights activated at the time.

Here are the narratives provided for each of the six incidents:

•    Arizona: “A 15-year-old girl had unloaded from the school bus and was crossing the roadway. The stop arm and eight-way red lights were activated. An alleged drunk driver did not stop, and the student was struck and killed.”
•    Georgia: “An 8-year-old girl was crossing the street with her mother to load onto the school bus. The stop arm and eight-way red lights were activated. An oncoming vehicle did not stop and mother and daughter were both struck. The mother survived, but the girl did not.”
•    Missouri: “A 10-year-old boy was running catch the school bus. The student tripped and fell and was struck and killed by the right rear dual wheels of the bus.”
•    Nebraska: “An 8-year-old boy had unloaded from the school bus. The bus driver did not see him as he crossed in front of the bus. The bus moved forward, and the student was struck and killed by the right front wheel of the bus.”
•    New York: “A 6-year-old girl had unloaded from the school bus. The bus driver did not see her as she crossed in front of the bus. The bus moved forward, and the student was struck and killed by the right rear dual wheels of the bus.”
•    North Carolina: “An 8-year-old girl was running to catch the school bus at a T-intersection. The school bus was stopped with its stop arm and eight-way lights activated on the nonthrough street of the T-intersection. The student was crossing the through street when she was struck and killed by a vehicle.”

Other details from the report include:

•    Three of incidents occurred during the trip to school and three happened on the trip home.
•    Three fatalities occurred while the student was walking or running to the school bus, two occurred while the student was unloading at the bus stop, and one happened while the students was walking or running from the bus stop.
•    Five of the six fatalities happened on a city street, while one occurred on a county road.  
•    Five of the six incidents occurred during daylight.
•    All six incidents happened in clear, dry weather conditions.

To view the full report for the 2017-18 school year, go here.

Related Topics: danger zone, driver training, fatalities, school bus stops, stop-arm running/illegal passing

Nicole Schlosser Managing Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Stephen Cerro

     | about 10 days ago

    It seems to me that the traditional Stop Arms are above the average driver's line-of-sight and many drivers are not looking up, they're looking ahead. Of course, somehow they are ignoring the bright yellow bus and bright red flashing lights, too. Is this the result of medications, use of other drugs, alcohol and/or poor organizational skills and/or in a hurry, etc.? I would tend to say most likely for one or more of these in most cases. Also, I would speculate that buses with an extension arm that swings out from just above the front bumper have less problems with drivers going through. Has anybody studied this?

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