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» SPECIAL REPORT  A crossing guard for Long Beach Unified School District, located near Los Angeles.


DANGER ZONE(S) NEWLY RELEASED STUDENT FATALITY STATISTICS REVEAL A RISE IN SCHOOL-BUS STOP ACCIDENTS


WRITTEN BY MICHELLE FISHER I


nspired to take action after a class- mate’s death, a group of middle and high school students lobbied the Wyo- ming Legislature in March to increase


penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus. In December 2011, sixth-grader Makayla Strahle was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the road after the bus dropped her at home. In their presentation to lawmakers, the


Wind River kids said education could help reduce “fly bys” — incidents when drivers pass stopped buses with flashing lights and extended stop arms. A similar movement began in Iowa after a young girl there was struck down two years ago, and the resulting bill known as “Kadyn’s Law” has been introduced at the federal level. Te website Kadynslaw.com lists several states’ efforts to increase fines for school-bus stop arm violations. Te reason is clear: Such accidents are the


No. 1 reason why students get killed while boarding or exiting their school bus. In its 2011-2012 National School Bus


Loading & Unloading Survey, the Kansas State Department of Education report-


34 School Transportation News May 2013


ed nine children died in the loading or unloading areas of a school bus. Based on data from individual states, the survey covers student fatalities between June 30, 2011, and July 1, 2012, noting location, time of day, weather conditions and the ages of victims Not included are onboard fatalities and deaths of non-students. Of the nine fatalities reported, six stu-


dents were struck by passing motorists and three by school buses. Eight were crossing the road and attempting to board the bus when a vehicle hit them. Meanwhile, STN’s independent research


found 15 total student fatalities around the school bus or bus stop in the 2011-2012 school year — and like Kansas, counted only three students who were hit by a school bus. Te discrepancy between the STN and


Kansas totals may arise from the definition of “loading and unloading zone” related to bus stops. Wilma Crabtree of the Kansas DOE’s School Bus Safety Unit said the fa- talities are only counted if they occur when the bus is “in the vicinity” of the bus stop. On the other hand, STN research culled from national wire reports include all fatali-


ties in which a student who was on the way to or from the bus stop was hit and killed. Based on that criteria, at this report there had been 14 student fatalities from Aug. 1, 2012, through April 1. It comes as no surprise to safety veteran


Dick Fischer that the majority of students are killed or injured while crossing the road (see sidebar on page 35). Te presi- dent of Trans-Consult, retired director of transportation and experienced school-bus driver trainer said he holds transportation directors and bus drivers responsible for the high number of student-pedestrian deaths, not the motoring public. “Bus drivers need to train the kids about bus stop safety: It’s their job to educate students, to remind them about safe crossing and waiting 15 feet back from the road,” stressed Fischer. “Te driver needs to com- municate with students after they get off the bus and signal to let them know when it’s safe to cross.”


TWO EMERGING TRENDS Ted Finlayson-Schueler, president of


Safety Rules! and an expert in school


PHOTO BY VINCENT RIOS


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