In two-thirds of pupil deaths that occurred during loading and unloading during the previous school year, the child’s death was related to a school bus, as opposed to a passenger vehicle. That’s according to the 2021-2022 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey, conducted annually by the Kansas State Department of Education. Results of the survey were released during the annual conference of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).
Six students were killed in loading and unloading-related incidents. The survey normally only includes deaths involving kindergarten through 12th grade students. However, this year’s data included a 19-year-old male student in Leon County, Florida, with disabilities. He, along with his motorized wheelchair, fell off the lift while being loaded into the school bus. WCTV reported that according to police, the height of the fall from the lift was eight feet. The student later died from his injuries sustained in the fall.
In Jefferson County, Missouri, a 6-year-old boy was killed when the bus driver moved the bus forward after the student exited the bus and was crossing in front of it. According to the survey, the driver did not see the student. The child was struck and killed by both the left front and left rear dual wheels.
In Parachute, Colorado, an 11-year-old girl was running to catch the school bus. The student tripped and fell and was struck and killed by the right rear dual wheels of the bus.
In Parker County, Texas, a 6-year-old girl crossed in front of the school bus after being unloaded. The driver, who later reported not seeing the girl, moved the bus forward. The student was struck and killed by the right front wheel of the bus.
In Marion County, Florida, a 10-year-old girl was crossing the street to board the bus. The bus was stopped with the stop arm and eight-way lights activated. An oncoming vehicle did not stop, and the student was struck and killed.
In Bartholomew County, Indiana, a 16-year-old girl was crossing the street to catch the school bus. The bus was stopped with the stop arm and eight-way lights activated. An oncoming vehicle did not stop, and the student was struck and killed.
Trends in the Data
One-third of the fatalities occurred due to the actions of drivers of passenger vehicles. Two-thirds of the fatalities were due to school buses. Half of the deaths occurred during the morning route, while the other half occurred during the afternoon route.
Half of the fatalities occurred on a Monday. Historically, data reveals most recent fatalities happened during the first half of the week. In the last five years, six deaths have occurred on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Five deaths happened on Thursdays, and three deaths occurred on Fridays.
One fatality happened in August 2021, one occurred in September, and one occurred in December. Two of the deaths happened in March 2022, and one occurred in April.
In all six deaths, the weather conditions were clear and dry. Two fatalities happened during dawn, while the other four happened during daylight hours. In the last five years, the vast majority of deaths occurred during this time.
Four deaths occurred in urban areas, while two happened in rural areas. Three of the deaths were on city streets, two were on county roads, and one was on private property.
Over the history of the national survey, 1,264 students were killed during loading and unloading. The vehicle involved in more than half of deaths, 56% or 713, was a school bus versus 44% or 551 due to a passenger vehicle or another type of vehicle.
Nearly two-thirds of the deaths, or 809, occurred during the trip to school. One-third of the deaths, or 455, occurred either during the trip home or another time, like an activity.
The largest percentage of fatalities, 73% or 923, occurred to students 9-years-old and younger. Deaths among students ages 10 through 17-years-old account for just over 23% of the total.
About the Survey
The Kansas State Department of Education has conducted the annual loading and unloading survey since 1970, collecting data on fatalities that occurred during loading and unloading, from participating states. Rhode Island and New Jersey did not participate in the 2021-2022 survey.
In all data images from the survey, the asterisk indicates the fatality of a 19-year-old student with disabilities.