Unifying Alabama's Traffic Safety Efforts
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School Bus Studies
Motorcoach and Schoolbus Fire Safety Analysis | November 2016
This Fire Safety Analysis report looks to identify the causes, frequency, and severity of motorcoach and school bus fires in the United States, and determine potential ways to prevent or reduce the severity of these incidents.

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Tennessee School Bus Crash Revives Debate Over Seat Belts
CBS News: A crash that in killed five children in Tennessee is reviving discussion over whether school buses - considered among the safest vehicles on the road because of their height and bulk - should also be equipped with seat belts. Only six states require seat belts on large buses. Many others, including Tennessee, have considered but dropped such legislation in recent years out of concerns including cost.

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Despite scary reports, federal data shows school buses are a safer mode of travel
The Washington Post: While most crashes involving a school bus — like Tuesday’s fatal accident in Baltimore —make the news, federal data shows that they remain one of  the safest ways for  children to get to and from school.

Data for fatal crashes shows that children are nearly eight times safer in a school bus than in a car driven by a parent or guardian, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although school buses have about 0.2 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, that rate for private cars is 1.5 per 100 million miles.

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School-Transporation-Related Crashes: 2005-2014 Data
From 2005 to 2014 there were 331,760 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those crashes, 1,191 (0.4%) were classified as school-transportation-related.

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Troopers reiterate rules of the road regarding school bus safety
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -As school starts back, it's once again time for drivers to pay attention when they're around buses.State troopers say just a few seconds of careless driving could have dangerous and deadly consequences.
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The Bus Is Your Best Bet
School buses keep an estimated 17.3 million cars off of roads surrounding schools each morning! School buses are a safe form of transportation, much safer than a passenger vehicle during school travel hours. Every state has laws that require drivers to stop for school buses, and the laws about how you can proceed past vary from state to state. Learn more about this topic here!
Alabama School Bus Travel
About 51% of public school pupils ride school buses. On a daily basis, 7,341 route school buses carry a total of 376,650 pupils (average = 51 pupils per bus) and travel 457,258 miles (82.3 million miles annually). The estimated annual cost of public school bus travel is about $330 million. Additional school bus information is shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Snapshot of public-school bus travel in Alabama (2009-10 data)
Public school enrollment 741,115
Average students per bus 51
Regular school buses 7,341
Spare school buses 2,081
Total school buses 9,422
Route buses 10 yrs or less in age 6.535 (97%)
Annual cost/transported student $873.93 (FY08)
Daily cost/transported student $4.86 (FY08)
Daily cost/mile $4.00 (FY08)
School Bus Safety
  • School buses are large and provide protection because of their visibility, size, and weight. The added protection of compartmentalization was adopted in 1977 under Federal Motor Vehicle Standard 222. Compartmentalization provides crash protection for pupils on large school buses through strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing backs to protect them from front- and rear-end crashes.
  • The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that school buses are the safest form of transportation to school. Students are six to eight times safer driving to school in a school bus compared to driving to school in their parents’ cars.
  • Nationally, three times more pupil deaths take place outside the bus (in loading/unloading zones) than from crashes while riding inside the bus.
  • Pupil deaths inside school buses are rare events in Alabama. Since 1977 when major advancements were made to school bus safety, there have been only five fatalities for pupils riding inside of school buses at the time the crash occurred (5 pupil fatalities in 33 years; 4 of which occurred in one tragic crash in Huntsville in 2006).
  • The addition of seat belts would make already-safe school buses even safer.
  • UTCA conducted a three year project on school bus seat belts for the Alabama State Department of Education, by studying 12 buses equipped with seat belts and overhead digital cameras:
    • Based upon 170,000 observations of pupils in pilot project buses, this project established an average seat belt use rate of 61.5%.
    • Evaluation of school bus crash data and NHTSA seat belt information showed that installing seat belts would reduce fatalities and injuries to pupils inside of school buses by about 38%.
    • A cost effectiveness study was performed using the NHTSA methodology (which is required for any federal rule making like requiring seat belts on buses), with two findings:
      • It would take $32 to 38 million in seat belt costs to produce one “equivalent life saved.”
      • The net benefits from seat belt implementation over one bus fleet life cycle are -$104 million to -$125 million. The benefits are negative because costs are larger than benefits.

Given that seat belts have large, negative economic consequences and that three times as many pupil fatalities occur outside the bus in loading and unloading zones, the UTCA study recommended that school officials first provide safety countermeasures outside of the bus. More lives can be saved there, and can be saved more quickly, than by installing seat belts in school buses.

The material in this article was taken from Summary Report: Alabama School Bus Seat Belt Pilot Project, published as University Transportation Center for Alabama (UTCA) report 07407-1 by the University of Alabama on October 25, 2010.