School & District Management

School Bus Safety: New Federal Report Tracks Fatal Crashes

By Sarah D. Sparks — January 12, 2017 1 min read
Yellow school bus parked next to playground and school.
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In spite of recent high-profile bus crashes, a new Government Accountability Office report suggests school buses are probably still a safer way to get your kids to school than driving them yourself.

From 2000 to 2015, there’s been on average 115 fatal crashes involving a school bus each year in the United States, the GAO found—that’s only a third of a percent of the nearly 35,000 fatal crashes during that time. The number of crashes remained relatively steady during that time:

The report comes as states debate requiring buses to include seat belts and other safety measures in the wake of high-profile fatal school bus crashes in Tennessee and Texas.

The GAO report found all states require school buses to be inspected every year, and 40 states require both pre-service and refresher training courses for bus drivers. The details of that training varied, though. Tennessee, where six children were killed when a Chattanooga bus flipped in November, requires bus drivers to receive four hours of training each year, but does not mandate initial bus driver training. By contrast, Pennsylvania requires 20 hours of initial training for school bus drivers and and 10 hours of refresher training at least every four years.

States were more varied on their rules on how many students could ride in buses of different sizes, and how long buses could be kept in service.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.