School Bus Safety

While fatal school bus accidents are rare, according to the NHTSA, on average, 18 school-age children die each year in school transportation-related crashes. Statistically, six of those are occupants of school transportation vehicles (mainly buses). The other 12 are pedestrians killed by school transportation vehicles or other vehicles that are involved in the school bus-related crash.

Once a student boards a bus, the child is, statistically speaking, safer inside the bus than outside it: Of the 325+ school-age children killed in school-transportation-related crashes since 2004, only 54 were children riding in buses. Accidents involving these vehicles, NHTSA found, are almost three times as deadly for occupants of the other vehicles.

Each year, school buses log more than an estimated 4 billion miles on U.S. roadways, transporting around 25 million students. But despite all the inherent risks, the number of students killed in school bus crashes is relatively small.

In fact, three times as many children are killed in school bus accidents while getting on or off the bus than while riding it. The majority of these injuries occur when children are boarding or leaving the school bus, because of the driver’s “blind spot,” which extends approximately 10 feet around the bus. The blind spot is caused by the frame, hood and other pieces of the bus. In addition, studies have shown that in a single day, hundreds of thousands of cars unlawfully pass stopped school buses.

Students can keep themselves safe by practicing several school bus safety rules for riders:

  • Find a seat and sit down quickly, don’t wander the isle. If you bus is equipped with seatbelts, use them.
  • Keep the noise level down. Loud laughing, yelling, music or other noise can distract the bus driver.
  • Never put your head, arm or even hands out the bus window and never throw anything out of the window.
  • Keep the bus aisle clear, school books or lunch bags are tripping risks and can block the way if students need to exit in an emergency.
  • Sit facing forward, do not sit facing the aisle
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before you stand up from your seat. Then, walk directly to the front door and exit, using the handrail, if there is one available. Don’t linger in the aisle talking to friends


As schools get back into full swing in Virginia, drivers are reminded to be cautious and follow some simple school bus safety rules that may save the lives of children.

  • Give school buses plenty of room
  • Pay attention to warning lights
  • Don’t text while driving
  • Watch for children/parents near the road at bus stops
  • Be sure the bus drive can see you, don’t drive in blindspots

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