Two student loading and unloading fatalities were reported for the 2019-20 school year in a survey conducted by the Kansas State Department of Education’s School Bus Safety Unit. - File photo

Two student loading and unloading fatalities were reported for the 2019-20 school year in a survey conducted by the Kansas State Department of Education’s School Bus Safety Unit.

File photo

The number of student loading and unloading fatalities in the 2019-20 school year were the lowest they have been in 10 years, with only two being reported, according to an annual national survey.

Statistics for the 2019-2020 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey are collected annually by the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE’s) School Bus Safety Unit. This is the 50th year that the survey has been conducted.

The survey notes that schools nationwide and in other countries were closed for most of the second semester of the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One student was killed by another vehicle and the other was fatally struck by their school bus.

Here are KSDE report’s narratives on the fatal incidents:

  • In Wisconsin, a 7-year-old girl was killed while waiting to board the bus. The bus was stopped with the stop arm and eight-way red lights activated. A vehicle approaching from the rear didn't stop and passed the bus on the right shoulder. The student was struck and killed.
  • In Maryland, a 9-year-old girl had unloaded from the bus. The bus drove forward and began a right turn. The student was struck by the right rear wheels of the bus.

The number of fatalities is down by three-quarters from the 2018-19 school year, in which there were eight illegal bus passing incidents and fatalities. The survey for that school year found that 87.5% of fatalities were attributed to other vehicles.

Other findings from the 2019-20 survey include:

  • One fatality occurred on a Monday, and the other happened on a Thursday.
  • One fatal incident happened at dawn and the other took place at dusk.
  • One incident occurred in December and the other happened in February.
  • The weather conditions in one incident were clear and were foggy in the other.
  • Road conditions included snow/slush in one incident and were dry in the other.
  • One incident happened on a state highway and the other took place on a city street.

The survey also noted that over the last 50 years, the largest percentage of fatalities — at 73%, or 917 — happened to students 9 years of age or younger. The majority of the fatal incidents occurred during trips to school (64%), and in slightly more than half of them (56.4%), the vehicles involved were school buses.

The survey results were presented on Thursday in a virtual workshop held by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).

The KSDE school bus loading/unloading survey is a collection of fatality accident records provided by the state agencies responsible for school transportation and/or accident records. Onboard fatalities are not included.

The survey is described as “an effort to raise awareness of the dangers involved in loading and unloading school children,” and the ongoing fatalities show “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 drivers across the country about the requirements of the school bus stop law.”

View survey results from previous years at the KSDE's website.

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