Special Report 269

The Relative Risks of School Travel

A NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE AND GUIDANCE FOR LOCAL COMMUNITY RISK ASSESSMENT

Committee on School Transportation Safety

TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Transportation Research Board

Washington, D.C.

2002

www.TRB.org



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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Special Report 269 The Relative Risks of School Travel A NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE AND GUIDANCE FOR LOCAL COMMUNITY RISK ASSESSMENT Committee on School Transportation Safety TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C. 2002 www.TRB.org

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Transportation Research Board Special Report 269 Subscriber Category IV operations and safety Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax ; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on School Transportation Safety. The relative risks of school travel : a national perspective and guidance for local community risk assessment / Committee on School Transportation Safety. p. cm.—(Special report) ISBN 0-309-07703-6 1. School children—Transportation—United States. 2. Risk assessment—United States. I. Title. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) LB2864 .N336 2002 371.8'72'0973—dc21 2002027189

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information, and encouraging the implementation of research results. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY H. Douglas Robertson, Chair, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Phyllis F. Agran, Pediatric Injury Prevention Research Group, University of California, Irvine Richard D. Blomberg, Dunlap and Associates, Inc., Stamford, Connecticut Ann M. Dellinger, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia Rodney G. Dobey, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota Ned B. Einstein, Transportation Alternatives, New York John S. Fabian, Motor Carrier Accident Investigation Section, New York State Department of Transportation, Public Transportation Safety Board, Schenectady James C. Fell, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton, Maryland Ted Finlayson-Schueler, Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, Syracuse, New York Paul S. Fischbeck, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Lindsay I. Griffin III, Texas Transportation Institute, College Station Ronald J. Hundenski, San Francisco Municipal Railway, San Francisco, California Ronald L. Kinney, Laidlaw Education Services, Sacramento, California Jeffrey C. Tsai, North Carolina State University, Raleigh Transportation Research Board Staff Beverly M. Huey, Senior Program Officer, Transportation Research Board

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Preface School transportation safety issues have been of concern for many years. Interest in these issues has recently been heightened by congressional testimony, as well as by reports and recommendations issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and others. Hearings held in the U.S. Senate in 1996 on school transportation safety, for example, raised the question of what is known about the safety of children who use public transit to travel to and from school. It was noted at the time that more than 20 percent of school children in California were using public transportation to travel to school, and that in other areas, such as Ohio, the use of public transit for school transportation was increasing. During the hearings, the focus of interest was broadened beyond school versus transit buses to include the various other modes used to transport students, and was expanded to include school-related trips in addition to trips to and from home and school. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century mandated that the Secretary of Transportation commission the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to examine available crash injury data, along with vehicle design and driver training requirements and routing, operational, and other relevant factors, to study “the safety issues attendant to the transportation of school children to and from school and school-related activities by various transportation modes.” If the data were deemed unavailable or insufficient, a new data collection regimen and implementation guidelines were to be recommended. (A copy of the relevant legislation is provided in the appendix.) The purpose of this report is to fulfill this mandate by assessing the relative risks of each major mode used for school travel and to provide insights into the potential effects on safety of changes in the distribution of school trips by mode. To conduct this study, NRC convened a 14-member committee with appropriate scientific and technical expertise in highway safety, data analysis, safety statistics, risk perception and communication, policy analysis, pediatrics, public health and exposure estimation, integration of transportation services, school bus operations, transit operations, driver training, and pedestrian/bicycling safety (see the study committee biographical information at the end of this report). Reflecting the origins of the study request, the study approach was as comprehensive as possible, encompassing all practical modes of school travel. In addressing the safety issues associated with the travel of school-age children to and from school and school-related activities by various modes, the committee interpreted its charge to include the following:

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment A review of available data and information on injuries, fatalities, exposure, operational factors, vehicle design, operator training, and other factors relevant to school travel; Consideration of the basic characteristics of the modes used by students, the operational differences among the modes, and any relevant infrastructure or environmental conditions; Assessment of issues relevant to determining the risk associated with each mode in the context of both occupant and pedestrian injuries and fatalities, with consideration of the behavioral and developmental characteristics of children; Assessment of the efficacy of drawing conclusions from the available data, based on the statistical confidence in the data and the relevancy of the data to the issues being reviewed; and Evaluation of the availability and adequacy of the salient data, and recommendation of new data collection and implementation guidelines if applicable. Upon undertaking the study, the committee examined the available databases and identified only three that could be used to examine the relative risk of the various school travel modes. Analysis of these data revealed some very clear differences in travel risks across the modes. Because of data limitations, however, only comparisons at the national level were possible; the data did not provide the detail needed to help specific school districts assess their risks. The complexity and sensitivity of the issues involved, coupled with the sparseness of comparable data, presented challenges to the committee. Nonetheless, the committee endeavored to consolidate all the existing information on the issues of interest, document what is currently known, analyze the available data (both qualitative and quantitative) to the extent possible, and produce findings and recommendations that would have practical application to decision making with regard to the safety of school travel. In addition, to help communities identify steps that could be taken to reduce the risks particular to their school transportation systems, the committee created checklists of risk mitigation options based on a review of the relevant research literature and accepted best practices. The committee recognizes that those responsible for making school transportation decisions must consider many factors aside from safety, but believes that these checklists, used in conjunction with the national-level statistical risk analysis, provide a framework with which communities can undertake a systematic evaluation of school travel alternatives. The committee as a whole met five times between July 2000 and July 2001, and subgroups met periodically throughout that period. The early meetings included extensive presentations in sessions open to the public, during which experts from government, academia, advocacy organizations, and industry presented a variety of issues and views to the committee. This final report provides a synthesis of the information gathered by the committee, which encompassed the data, analytical tools, and methods currently available for the development of a risk management framework for assessing the relative safety of the various modes used for school travel.

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment ACKNOWLEDGMENTS During the course of this study, the committee and staff received numerous briefings and presentations, consulted with experts, and requested detailed data analyses. The committee wishes to thank the many individuals who contributed their time and effort to this project. In particular, the committee wishes to thank Patricia Hu and Timothy Reusch of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who analyzed data from the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey; Anders Longthorne of the National Center for Statistics and Analysis at NHTSA, who performed analyses of data from the General Estimates System; and Betsy Benkowski [formerly of NHTSA, now with the Truck and Bus Crash Information Center, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)], Judy Hilton (NHTSA), and Lindsay Griffin III (Texas Transportation Institute), who conducted analyses of data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System; and Clarence Cheung of Carnegie Mellon University, who provided support to Paul Fischbeck for the risk analyses. We are also indebted to Lidia Kostyniuk and Hans Joksch of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, who provided briefings on the Data Collection Effort for Pupil Safety on Transit Bus Systems project. Appreciation is expressed as well to the many individuals and organizational representatives who provided information, including Robert Bambino, Director of Risk Management, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal; Tamara Broyhill, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Andrew Clarke, Chair, TRB Technical Activities Committee on Bicycling; Rob Foss, Highway Safety Research Center; Charles Gauthier, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services; Phil Hanley, Commercial Passenger Safety Division, FMCSA; Charlie Hott, NHTSA; Ken House, staffer for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Greg Hull, American Public Transportation Association; William Hunter, Highway Safety Research Center; Terry Klein, Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Robin Leeds, National School Transportation Association; Susan Liss, FHWA; Iyon Lyles, Federal Transit Administration; Mike Martin, National Association of Pupil Transportation; Nancy McGuckin, FHWA; Angela Mickalide, The National SAFE KIDS Campaign; Bill Paul, School Transportation News; Joe Osterman, NTSB; Jeanmarie Poole, NTSB; Bill Wilkinson, National Center for Bicycling and Walking; and Chris Zeilinger, Community Transportation Association of America. Thanks are due in particular to the liaison representatives from NHTSA—Eleanor Hunter, Maria Vegega, and Diane Wigle—who responded promptly and with a generous spirit to the committee’s many requests for information. The study was performed under the overall supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, TRB’s Director of Studies and Information Services. The committee gratefully acknowledges the work and support of Beverly Huey, who served as project director and drafted many sections of the report; Paul Fischbeck, who conducted the risk analyses and drafted other sections of the report; and Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, who managed the review process. The report was edited by Rona Briere and prepared for publication under the supervision of Nancy A. Ackerman, Director of Reports and Editorial Services.

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment The report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee thanks the following individuals for their review of this report: Dan Burden, Walkable Communities, Inc., High Springs, Florida; James H. Hedlund, Highway Safety North, Ithaca, New York; Karl E. Kim, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii; William Mallett, Battelle Memorial Institute, Washington, D.C.; Michael Malloy, Cleveland Municipal School District, Cleveland, Ohio; Penny Page, Yellow Transportation, Baltimore, Maryland; and Frederick P. Rivara, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington. Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by L. G. (Gary) Byrd, Consulting Engineer, Mill Spring, North Carolina, and Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. H. Douglas Robertson, Chair Committee on School Transportation Safety

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Contents     Executive Summary   1 1   Introduction   15      Context,   15      Charge to the Committee,   17      Study Scope,   18      Analyzing the Safety of School Travel,   19      Organization of the Report,   23 2   Quantitative Analyses: Data and Methods   25      Data Sources,   26      Datasets Used for This Study,   29      Conclusions,   47      Annex 2-1,   50      Annex 2-2,   66 3   Analysis of Risk Measures   83      Data Categories,   84      Data Adjustments,   86      Risk Measures,   89      Uncertainty,   91      Interpretation of Data,   100      Annex 3-1,   115 4   Identifying and Managing Risks Associated with School Transportation   118      Human Risk Factors,   118      Vehicular Risk Factors,   122      Operational Risk Factors,   126      Infrastructure and Environmental Risk Factors,   129      Societal Risk Factors,   131      Strategies for Managing Risk,   132      Summary,   139 5   Application of Risk Estimates: Illustrative Scenarios   145      Scenarios,   145      Conclusions,   157

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment 6   Conclusions and Recommendations   159      Quantitative Analyses,   159      Identifying and Managing Risk,   160      Data,   163      Summary,   164 Appendix   Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century: Section 4030, School Transportation Safety   165     Study Committee Biographical Information   166