Data shows school buses are safe, crashes are uncommon

Statistics show overall that students are relatively safe on the roads and crashes are rare, both state and nationwide.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In South Carolina, around 350,000 students board a bus to get to school every day.

Statistics show overall that they’re relatively safe on the roads and crashes are rare, both state and nationwide.

During the 2021 to 2022 school year, there were 492 total school bus crashes in South Carolina out of a fleet of 5,600, according to Sgt. Matt Southern, a school bus safety coordinator with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Traffic accidents involving school buses often account for a small portion of roadway incidents when compared to other motor vehicles like cars, SUVs, and motorcycles.

“That’s mainly because of the size of the bus. The safety features that that bus has, it’s built to certain standards. The fact that it has the flashing lights, the fact that it has the stop sign and the crossing gate on it, so all of those things come together to make a bus a very safe vehicle,” he said.

Southern says that school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the roads in the state.

A school bus carrying eight students hit a student pedestrian and crashed into a building in North Charleston Tuesday morning sending seven to the hospital with minor injuries.

Deaths and serious injuries involving a school bus are even less common.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely by bus than if they travel by car.

From 2011 to 2020 there were 1,009 fatal school transport-related crashes nationally with 1, 125 victims.

That’s just 0.3% of the 326,000 total fatal crashes.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Traffic Collision Fact Book states from 2016 to 2020 there were nine deaths and 40 serious injuries, out of nearly 2,000 crashes. Most school bus wrecks lead to minor injuries and property damage instead.

In 2020, there was one deadly crash involving a South Carolina school bus in the Midlands, where the bus hit a tractor-trailer after it had jackknifed into oncoming traffic killing the driver.

The school bus driver suffered minor injuries.

Pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles involved in crashes however are at higher risk than those inside the bus. The NHTSA reports that 70% of those killed in these school bus crashes are occupants of other vehicles.

It also reports that there were 1.6 times more deaths among pedestrians than those riding the bus. More than half of pedestrian deaths involve children between five and ten years old.

In the state, school bus drivers do also have to undergo training both before and annually after they get their certification.