School Bus Crashes

School bus-related crashes killed 119 people nationwide in 2016, according to National Safety Council (NSC) tabulations of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A school bus-related crash is defined by NHTSA as any crash in which a vehicle, regardless of body design, used as a school bus is directly or indirectly involved. This includes incidents involving school children getting in or out of a vehicle.

From 2007 to 2016, about 70% of the deaths in school bus-related crashes were occupants of vehicles other than the school bus, and 17% were pedestrians. About 5% were school bus passengers, 4% were school bus drivers and 3% were pedalcyclists.

Of the people injured in school bus-related crashes from 2007 to 2016, about 35% were school bus passengers, 8% were school bus drivers and 50% were occupants of other vehicles. The remainder were pedestrians, pedalcyclists, and other or unknown.

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Deaths and injuries in school bus-related crashes, United States, 2007-2016

Deaths
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total 142 152 118 130 123 131 130 120 115 119
Occupant of other vehicle 112 104 91 84 86 87 92 77 87 80
Pedestrian 19 21 21 26 21 27 22 28 11 20
School bus passenger 1 15 3 10 4 8 6 7 5 9
School bus driver 4 4 2 6 7 6 5 4 8 4
Pedalcyclist 6 8 1 3 4 3 3 4 4 4
Other non-occupants 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 2
  Injuries
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total 9,000 13,000 13,000 10,000 12,000 9,000 24,000 14,000 13,000 18,000
Occupant of other vehicle 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 6,000 6,000 9,000 9,000 7,000 11,000
School bus passenger 2,000 6,000 6,000 3,000 4,000 2,000 11,000 4,000 4,000 5,000
School bus driver 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 (a) 1,000 2,000 1,000 2,000 1,000
Pedestrian (a) (a) 1,000 (a) (a) (a) 1,000 (a) 1,000 (a)
Pedalcyclist (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a)
Other non-occupants (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a) (a)
(a) Fewer than 500.

Characteristics of school bus transportation

According to the American School Bus Council, an estimated 480,000 yellow school buses provide transportation service daily in the U.S. and travel about 5.8 billion miles each school year. About 26 million elementary and secondary school children ride school buses to and from school each day. This compares to projections from the U.S. Department of Education of K-12 enrollments in fall 2016 of about 56.9 million public school students and 5.9 million private school students.

School buses are the best option for transporting kids to school, safer than both walking or riding in a car. NSC supports the adoption of lap restraints and shoulder belts to make them even safer.   

The interactive map allows you to explore crash details of the 105 school bus-related fatal crashes in 2016. The filters on the right side of the map allow you to search for crashes by state, weather conditions, and indicate if speeding or distracted driving was reported as contributing circumstances. More details are also available by hovering over the red circular crash symbols.

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Source:

  • Deaths for 2007-2015 – National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2017). Traffic Safety Facts 2006-2015 Data – School Transportation-Related Crashes (DOT HS 811 746). Washington, DC: NHTSA.
  • Fatality data for 2016 and pedalcyclist deaths are NSC tabulations of Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data.
  • Injuries – National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2007-2015). Traffic Safety Facts, 2007-2015 editions. Washington, DC: NHTSA.
  • Injury data for 2016 are NSC tabulations of the NHTSA Crash Report Sampling System. School bus transportation data accessed Sept. 8, 2016, from American School Bus Councils .
  • Student enrollment data from the Digest of Education Statistics: 2015, accessed Oct. 23, 2017, from the National Center for Education Statistics.