Bus Accident Statistics: Injuries, Fatalities, and Property Damage
Every day, across the nation, thousands of buses carry children to school, workers to their jobs, people to various points in an area, and even travelers across the country. Commuter buses, school buses, city buses, and charter buses make life easier for so many, providing affordable conveyance for many people and an environmentally smart transportation solution. They are considered one of the safest forms of travel for both around town or long distance with just 0.14 deaths per billion miles. However, each year bus accidents do occur causing injuries, property damage and even fatalities.
Bus Crash Overview
Bus crashes made up just 0.8 percent of fatal crashes on United States roadways in 2012. With a total of 30,800 fatal crashes over all, encompassing all types of vehicles, only 250 involved a bus. Of the 5,584,000 nonfatal vehicle crashes that year, only 0.9 percent (54,000) involved at least one bus or large truck.
In 2013 the number for bus crash statistics rose slightly.
- 280 fatal bus crashes
- 48 bus occupant fatalities
- 310 total fatalities in all bus crashes for 2013
- 18,000 bus crashes that resulted in injury
- 48,000 bus crashes that resulted in property damage only
There were 864,549 buses registered nationwide and they traveled 15,167 million miles during 2013.
A breakdown of fatal bus crashes is as follows:
- Intercity buses – 13 percent
- Transit buses and school buses – 41 percent
- All other types of buses – 33 percent
City and Tour Buses
City buses and tour buses are considered safe, but the actual numbers are difficult to come by. Many tour bus and city bus crashes are unreported. This is because bus companies benefit from keeping bus crash statistics down for a variety of reasons. More people on the vehicle and the fact that there are no seat belts theoretically increase the number of injuries in the event of a crash, but this is not always true. City bus seats are constructed much like school bus seats, with high backs and arm rests to keep the riders compartmentalized, or in their seats should the bus crash.
An inexperienced or elderly bus driver does increase accident risks significantly. Distracted driving has also become a problem as mobile devices and smart phones increase in popularity. Impairment of the driver due to alcohol consumption, substance use that impairs reflexes, or excessive drowsiness can also contribute to elevated risk of a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects data on all vehicle accidents, including bus crashes and report that approximately 134 die in crashes that involve a school vehicle but only 8 percent of those that are killed are actually bus passengers. Other victims of school bus crashes such as bicyclists, pedestrians, and others that are outside of the bus make up 21 percent of the fatalities. Almost three fourths of school bus related fatalities are other motorists.
While most states do not require children to wear seat belts while riding a school bus (Florida, New Jersey, and New York require lap belts on school buses), the children are still considered safer, statistically speaking, riding in a school bus:
- There are approximately 480,000 school buses nationwide
- These school buses drive an average of about 10 billion miles every year
- There is an estimated average of 6 school bus passenger fatalities per year
Bus Crashes and Property Damage
The Federal Highway Administration does not have a reporting threshold for property damage due to vehicle crashes. Property damage thresholds are left up to the states to define and the FHWA collects the reports from each state in its data collection practices. The NHTSA records property damage only crashes and reports them, but they do not have thresholds either.