8/15/2017US DOT: No School Bus Passing Fatalities In 2015
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data show no school kids were killed by passing motorists in the most recent year studied.
North Carolina last month became the latest state to enact a law expanding the use of automated ticketing machines on school buses. Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed the legislation giving private companies the green light to mail traffic tickets of up to $1000 to the owner (not necessarily the driver) of vehicles accused of violating the state's bus passing rules.
"Senate Bill 55 follows several instances of North Carolina students being hurt or killed by unsafe drivers while waiting for or attempting to get on or off the school bus, despite a state law requiring drivers to stop for stopped school buses," Cooper's office claimed in a press release.
An analysis released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that the "drivers" who most often hurt or kill students are far more likely to be the ones behind the wheel of a school bus. Each year, NHTSA updates its tally of crashes involving vehicles used to bring children to school, and the conclusion has not changed over the past two decades. Incidents caused by automobile drivers illegally passing buses continue to be exceptionally rare.
"Nearly two-thirds of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school transportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses," the new NHTSA report found.
In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, 11 students nationwide were struck and killed by a school bus. None were hit by automobiles while walking to or from a school bus. Over the past ten years, only 4 automobiles have ever struck and killed a school-age pedestrian after passing a school bus. In the same period, 62 child fatalities were caused by school bus drivers. Despite the results, NHTSA is currently preparing a report exploring the use of school bus cameras that is scheduled for publication early in 2018.
Companies like Redflex Traffic Systems have struggled to turn a profit operating bus cameras due to the low volume of tickets issued. The North Carolina legislation was meant to come to the Australian company's rescue by boosting the pricetag on a ticket to $250 for the first alleged offense, $400 for the second and $1000 for the third. Vehicle owners will not be fined if they pass a stopped bus from the opposite direction on a four-lane road if the road is considered "divided." If the road is not considered to be divided, the device will issue a ticket.
A copy of Monday's NHTSA report is available in a 350k PDF file at the source link below.