Every day across the country, nearly 500,000 buses carry more than 25 million students to and from school and activities.
School buses are the safest vehicles on the road, and one of the safest modes of transportation overall. In fact, children are much safer traveling in school buses than in any other vehicle, whether they’re going to or from school, a field trip, or a sporting event. They’re even safer riding in a school bus than in a car with their parents.
School buses use a unique technology called compartmentalization—a passive occupant protection system. School bus seats, made with an energy-absorbing steel inner structure and high, padded seat backs, are secured to the school bus floor. Students are protected within the seating compartment much like eggs in a carton.
Although school buses are extremely safe, we have investigated school bus crashes in which children were injured and even killed. These were typically side-impact crashes or high-speed rollovers. In these accidents, compartmentalization was not enough to prevent all injuries; for some of the children involved, a seat belt could have lessened their injuries or even saved their lives. As a result of our school bus crash investigations, we believe—and have recommended—that, when investing in new school buses, the purchased vehicles should provide children with the best protection available, which includes 3-point seat belts.
Below are school bus safety resources and our investigation reports of school bus crashes involving both seat belted and non-belted passengers.
School Bus Safety Video
NTSB Presents - School Bus Safety
Webinar: Vehicle Collision with Student Pedestrians Crossing a High Speed Roadway to Board School Bus
School Bus Crash Animations
(NTSB YouTube Channel)
Related School Bus Crash Briefs/Reports:
Rochester, IN - HWY19MH003
Oakland, IA - HWY18MH003
Thief River Falls, MN - HWY17SH002
Special Investigation Report: Selective Issues in School Bus Transportation Safety: Crashes in Baltimore, Maryland, and Chattanooga, Tennessee
Anaheim, CA - HWY14FH010
Chesterfield, NJ - HWY12MH007
Knoxville, TN – HWY15FH002
Houston, TX – HWY15FH010
Gray Summit, MO – HWY10MH018
5/13/2020 Vehicle Collision with Student Pedestrians Crossing a High Speed Roadway to Board School Bus. This was put on by the Rochester, Indiana Investigative team.
7/25/2019 - Testimony of Kristin Poland, PhD Deputy Director, Office of Highway Safety, National Transportation Safety Board Before the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit United States House of Representatives on Examining the Federal Role in Improving School Bus Safety
7/15/2019 - Presentation to the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association Annual Conference in Des Moines, IA - Updates on NTSB School Bus Investigation - Michele Beckjord, Supervisory Investigator-In-Charge
6/6/2019 - Presentation to the Alabama School Transportation Conference - Stephanie Shaw
10/29/2018 - Updates Regarding NTSB School Bus Investigations - Michele Beckjord, Senior Accident Investigator, NTSB
11/7/2016 - Presentation to 42nd NAPT Annual Summit and the 2016 NASDPTS Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri - Chairman Christopher A. Hart's