U.S. School Bus Accident Statistics

Approximately 0.3% of motor vehicle crashes involve buses or school transportation vehicles. Read on for U.S. school bus accident stats.

Parents rarely think twice about letting their kids take the school bus. They expect their children will be safe as they travel to and from public school or private school on a bus. Unfortunately, school bus accidents do occur, and their consequences can be devastating.

This article will review vital statistics about school bus accidents and school bus safety. All of the statistics in this article were obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publication “School-Transportation-Related Crashes,” which analyzes Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 2009 to 2018.

Deaths in school bus crashes

Notable Statistics: 

  • Between 2009 and 2018, 1,207 people died in school-transportation-related crashes, an average of 121 deaths per year.
  • Occupants of passenger vehicles accounted for 70% of fatalities in school bus crashes.
  • Of the 1,207 people killed, 249 (20.6%) were school-age, which NHTSA defines as 18 or younger.
  • Forty-one percent (102) of school-age fatalities occurred between 6 a.m. and 8:59 a.m., and 40.2% (100) occurred between 2 p.m. and 4:59 p.m.

Fatal School Bus Accidents

Between the years 2009 and 2018, 317,789 fatal motor vehicle crashes occurred in the United States. Of these fatal accidents, 1,083 (0.3%) involved yellow school buses or other school transportation vehicles. In these 10 years, 1,207 people died in school-transportation-related crashes, an average of 121 deaths per year.Fatal school bus accidents Occupants of other vehicles accounted for 70% (841) of fatalities in school-bus-related crashes. In comparison, school transportation vehicle occupants accounted for 10% (121) of deaths, and nonoccupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, made up 20% (245) of fatalities.

Of the 121 occupant fatalities, 66 (54.5%) were school bus passengers, and 55 (45.5%) were school bus drivers. Of the 208 pedestrians killed, 141 (67.8%) were hit by school transportation vehicles, and 67 (32.2%) were hit by other motorists involved in the crash.

School-Age Pedestrian Fatalities

Among the 1,207 people killed in school bus crashes between 2009 and 2018, 249 (20.6%) were 18 or younger, the age group which NHTSA defines as “school age.”

Fifty-two (20.9%) of the school-age people killed were school transportation vehicle occupants, 92 (36.9%) were occupants of other vehicles, 100 (40.2%) were pedestrians and five (2.0%) were other nonoccupants, such as bicyclists.

Of the 100 school-age pedestrian fatalities, 48 were hit by school buses or other motor vehicles serving as school buses, and 52 were hit by other vehicles involved in the crash, such as passenger cars, SUVs, vans, trucks, and motorcycles.

The majority (68%) of pedestrian fatalities under the age of 19 were killed by school buses or passenger vehicles going straight.School-age pedestrian fatalities The other 32% of deaths were caused by the following vehicle maneuvers:

  • Starting in the road (10%)
  • Turning left (6%)
  • Negotiating a curve (5%)
  • Accelerating in the road (3%)
  • Turning right (3%)
  • Passing or overtaking another vehicle (2%)
  • Slowing in the road (1%)
  • Leaving or entering a parked position (1%)
  • Other/unknown (1%)

Fatalities By Age Group and Time of Day

Of the school bus occupants killed, 22 (18%) were between 5 and 10 years old, 20 (17%) were between 14 and 18 years old and 69 (57%) were older than 18. Of the pedestrians killed in school-transportation-related crashes, 52 (25%) were 5 to 10 years old, 26 (13%) were 14 to 18 years old and 107 (52%) were 19 or older.

School-age fatalities by time of day

Of the 249 school-age children killed from 2009 to 2018, 41% (102) of the deaths occurred between 6 a.m. and 8:59 a.m., and 40.2% (100) occurred between 2 p.m. and 4:59 p.m. The number of fatalities by the time of day are listed in the chart below.

Time of Day School Bus Deaths Other Vehicle Deaths Non-occupant Deaths Total Deaths
Midnight – 5:59am 2 1 2 5
6:00 – 6:59am 3 7 25 35
7:00 – 7:59am 8 22 22 52
8:00 – 8:59am 3 6 6 15
9:00 – 9:59am 1 3 0 4
10:00 – 10:59am 2 4 0 6
11:00 – 11:59am 1 3 1 5
12:00 – 12:59pm 1 2 1 4
1:00 – 1:59pm 2 3 2 7
2:00 – 2:59pm 3 7 6 16
3:00 – 3:59pm 16 16 23 55
4:00 – 4:59pm 7 11 11 29
5:00 – 11:59pm 3 7 6 16
Total 52 92 105 249

Types of Fatal School Bus Crashes

From 2009 to 2018, 98 school transportation vehicles were involved in accidents where at least one occupant was killed, resulting in 121 school bus occupant fatalities. Forty-one (41.8%) of these school buses were involved in single-vehicle crashes, and 57 (58.2%) were involved in multiple-vehicle crashes.

Single-vehicle crashes resulted in 51 (42.1%) total school bus occupant deaths: 20 (16.5%) bus drivers and 31 (25.6%) passengers. The total number of fatalities from multiple-vehicle accidents between 2009 and 2018 was 70 (57.9%): 35 (28.9%) drivers and 35 (28.9%) passengers.

Among the 41 fatal single-vehicle crashes, 24 were caused by the bus striking a fixed object, eight were caused by a person falling from the vehicle, six were caused by the vehicle overturning, and three were caused by other events, such as thrown or falling objects, fires, explosions, or railway vehicles.

The initial impact points of these 98 accidents are listed in the chart below.Initial impact points School bus accidents can result in serious injuries to bus passengers and others. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash involving a school transportation vehicle, you might be able to receive compensation for your injuries.

To learn more about your rights, you can schedule a free consultation with a local personal injury attorney.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>