School Bus Safety: Statistics

The following statistical background information is useful for professionals involved in the development and delivery of school bus safety programs.
Ontario's school population includes over two million students who attend elementary and secondary schools. Of those, over 800,000 regularly use school vehicles to travel to and from school. Other students use school buses for field trips, special outings and for special travel needs. Research conducted by Transport Canada shows that school bus travel is one of the safest methods of transportation—and is 16 times safer than traveling in the family car per passenger/kilometer of travel.
Factors Related to School Bus Collisions
Table 1
SCHOOL YEAR 1990/1991 1991/1992 1992/1993 1993/1994 1994/1995
Number of pupils transported daily (school year) 789,963 794,941 796,347 798,926 816,273
Total number of collisions involving school vehicles 1,315 1,194 1,174 1,293 1,018
Per cent of school vehicles in reportable collisions 6.6% 6.0% 6.0% 6.9% 5.6%
Per cent of all vehicles in reportable collisions 6.4% 6.7% 6.7% 6.6% 6.3%
Number of pupils killed 3 1 0 3 1
Number of pupils injured 255 147 160 219 174

Killed outside the bus 3 1 0 1 0
Injured outside the bus 13 19 13 9 7
Killed within school vehicle 0 0 0 2 1
Injured within school vehicle 242 128 147 210 167

Pupils Killed and Injured in Collisions
As Table 1 indicates, the majority of school vehicle-related fatalities (62%) occur outside the school vehicle. When a school vehicle is involved in a collision, the outcome for the pupils traveling in it is very rarely death. The majority of reported injuries due to collisions are minor, involving cuts and bruises. Historically, six to eight pupils a year require a hospital stay due to injuries sustained within the school bus.
Pupil deaths outside the school vehicle occur either when a motorist does not stop for a school vehicle that is taking on or discharging passengers, or when the pupil is hit by the school vehicle.
In 1995, there were 2,185,926 children in Ontario between the ages of 5 and 19. In order to put school vehicle safety in perspective, some other transportation-related injuries which affect this age group are identified in Table 2. During the 1994/5 school year (200 days) one child was killed and 174 were injured in school vehicle crashes, and it is estimated that school pupils take well over 163 million trips to and from school.
Table 2
Deaths per 10,000 population Injuries per 10,000 population
Motor Vehicle Passengers 61 .28 8634 39.5
Pedestrians 20 .09 1696 7.8
Cyclists 9 .04 1324 6.06

The low injury and fatality rate among school vehicle passengers is likely due to the distinctive highly visible, yellow and black color of school vehicles, the special training and licensing of school vehicle drivers, and the emphasis placed on safety by the operators.