School Bus Collision Summary, Canada 1989-1997: Investigations of Previous Collisions

The investigation of collisions involving school buses has been given the highest priority within the collision investigation program. All fatalities or injury producing collisions which involve a school bus and which come to the attention of one of our university-based research teams are investigated in depth.

A summary of 58 collisions from 1977 to 1988 was prepared and some of the results were contained in a 1989 Transport Canada publication on occupant protection in school buses [2]. Of the 58 collisions summarized, nine involved buses which were manufactured after 1982 and which received benefit from the safety standards published in the preceding period. These are referred to as "post-1980 standard" buses.

The important findings [3] determined from the nine reports involving post-1980 standard buses in the 1989 summary were:

  • Since there were no cases of ejection, even though there were four severe rollovers, the windows were effective in retaining the occupants in the bus.
     
  • No ruptures of joints occurred in any of the nine cases even though five of these cases were severe.
     
  • Ten major injuries were sustained by the 248 occupants. Nine of these injuries were the result of intrusion by an object or vehicle into the bus, and one was a result of the occupant lying prone and asleep on the seat. Seat belts would not likely have reduced the injury levels.
     
  • In two collisions the fuel tank was directly impacted but was protected by the cage installed in response to the standard. No leaks occurred.
     
  • Mirrors were recognized to be a problem since two pedestrians were run over by their bus.
     
  • Children disembarking from the bus seemed to be at greater risk than occupants of the bus.

The buses appeared to perform well from a crashworthiness perspective but improvements were indicated in order to avoid incidents involving pedestrians in close proximity to buses.



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