Photo of On-scene postcrash view of school bus with lights in operation.

​​On-scene postcrash view of school bus with lights in operation. (Source: Indiana State Police)

Vehicle Collision with Student Pedestrians Crossing High Speed Roadway to Board School Bus

What Happened

​​About 7:12 a.m., on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, a 2015 Thomas Built school bus, operated by Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, was traveling north on State Route 25 (SR-25) in Rochester, Fulton County, Indiana, on its morning route. At this location, SR-25 is a two-lane highway with a posted speed limit of 55 mph. The school bus stopped at its designated location to pick up students, and the driver activated the bus’s red warning lights and stop arm. Conditions were dark, the sky was cloudy, and the roadway was dry.

After being signaled by a wave from the school bus driver to cross the roadway, four students entered the southbound roadway. A 2017 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck traveling south on SR-25 failed to stop for the school bus and struck the four children. According to the vehicle’s recorded data, the pickup truck struck the student pedestrians at 41 mph. As a result of the crash, three children were fatally injured, and another child sustained serious injuries. 

What We Found

​​The probable cause of the crash was the pickup truck driver’s failure to stop for the school bus for unknown reasons, despite its clearly visible warning lights and stop arm, as well as a roadway warning sign indicating an upcoming school bus stop. Contributing to the cause of the crash was the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s (1) inadequate safety assessment of school bus routes, resulting in the prevalence of bus stops that required student pedestrians to cross a 55-mph roadway to board a bus, increasing the risk of injury during a collision, and (2) failure to establish a clear policy regarding surrounding traffic for school bus drivers to follow in determining when it was safe to signal students to cross a roadway to board a school bus.

What We Recommended

​As a result of this investigation, The NTSB made two recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one to states that do not have laws permitting the use of stop arm cameras on school buses for enforcement purposes, two to the Indiana Department of Education, four to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, National Association for Pupil Transportation, and National School Transportation Association, one to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs’ Association, and National Association of School Resource Officers and two to the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation. [1] The NTSB also reiterated three recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

  1. ​​States include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin; the commonwealths of Kentucky, and Massachusetts; and the District of Columbia.