4
Identifying and Managing Risks Associated with School Transportation

The school travel problem is explored in Chapters 2 and 3 from a national perspective using injury and fatality risk measures. As noted earlier, however, decisions about school travel alternatives are made at the regional, school, household, and individual levels. Although these decisions reflect considerations other than safety—such as cost, flexibility, and convenience—an understanding of the risk factors that determine school travel safety can provide essential input for the decision-making process. This understanding can also make it possible to evaluate alternatives designed to reduce the risks associated with each mode, and enable a school district to provide a range of choices for school travel that meet a variety of needs, including safety. Accordingly, the risk factors associated with school travel, as well as potential interventions to reduce the risks most salient for each school travel mode, are reviewed in this chapter.

To examine the risks involved in school travel, the committee grouped the risk factors into five categories that cut across the various school travel modes: (a) human, (b) vehicular, (c) operational, (d) infrastructure/environmental, and (e) societal. It should be noted that much of the information presented here on these factors is descriptive or nonquantitative in nature. Moreover, the list of factors reviewed is not intended to be exhaustive, but includes those factors the committee considers most important. It should be noted as well that the risk factors vary not only across travel modes, but also across school districts, students, and days of the year. Following the discussion of the five risk categories, a checklist is provided for each mode that can be used by decision makers in a given community (whether policy makers, local administrators, or parents) to enhance the safety of school travel.

HUMAN RISK FACTORS

For this study, human risk factors are defined as those factors that can be attributed to the people in the system (school-age pedestrians, school-age passengers, and school-age and adult drivers). This category includes both factors that cannot be directly changed (e.g., age, gender, personality, information processing, cognitive ability) and those that can (e.g., experience levels; training, education, and qualifications; substance use; compliance; peer pressure).

It should be noted that, although fatalities to school-age children who ride school buses are low, the majority of those fatalities occur outside the vehicle. In contrast, injuries occur much more frequently to school bus riders when they are on the bus than during the pedestrian segment of their trip. The human risk factors for the pedestrian segment of the trip will be different from those for the passenger segment.



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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment 4 Identifying and Managing Risks Associated with School Transportation The school travel problem is explored in Chapters 2 and 3 from a national perspective using injury and fatality risk measures. As noted earlier, however, decisions about school travel alternatives are made at the regional, school, household, and individual levels. Although these decisions reflect considerations other than safety—such as cost, flexibility, and convenience—an understanding of the risk factors that determine school travel safety can provide essential input for the decision-making process. This understanding can also make it possible to evaluate alternatives designed to reduce the risks associated with each mode, and enable a school district to provide a range of choices for school travel that meet a variety of needs, including safety. Accordingly, the risk factors associated with school travel, as well as potential interventions to reduce the risks most salient for each school travel mode, are reviewed in this chapter. To examine the risks involved in school travel, the committee grouped the risk factors into five categories that cut across the various school travel modes: (a) human, (b) vehicular, (c) operational, (d) infrastructure/environmental, and (e) societal. It should be noted that much of the information presented here on these factors is descriptive or nonquantitative in nature. Moreover, the list of factors reviewed is not intended to be exhaustive, but includes those factors the committee considers most important. It should be noted as well that the risk factors vary not only across travel modes, but also across school districts, students, and days of the year. Following the discussion of the five risk categories, a checklist is provided for each mode that can be used by decision makers in a given community (whether policy makers, local administrators, or parents) to enhance the safety of school travel. HUMAN RISK FACTORS For this study, human risk factors are defined as those factors that can be attributed to the people in the system (school-age pedestrians, school-age passengers, and school-age and adult drivers). This category includes both factors that cannot be directly changed (e.g., age, gender, personality, information processing, cognitive ability) and those that can (e.g., experience levels; training, education, and qualifications; substance use; compliance; peer pressure). It should be noted that, although fatalities to school-age children who ride school buses are low, the majority of those fatalities occur outside the vehicle. In contrast, injuries occur much more frequently to school bus riders when they are on the bus than during the pedestrian segment of their trip. The human risk factors for the pedestrian segment of the trip will be different from those for the passenger segment.

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Pedestrian behavior is complex. Children must acquire many skills and learn many tasks to become safe pedestrians, and they do not reliably demonstrate these skills (Sandels 1975; Vinje 1981). Moreover, because children walking may encounter and interact with other modes during their travel, they must have the skills needed to interpret the dangers represented by these other modes. Thus, children need to develop schema for critical behaviors such as street crossing, which may require the ability to judge vehicle speed and distance, as well as safe gaps. While evidence of the effectiveness of generic pedestrian safety education in reducing injuries and fatalities and in preventing accidents is lacking (Duperrex et al. 2002; TRB 2001), implementation of school bus passenger safety education has been linked to a reduction in the risk of fatality for school bus passengers during the pedestrian segment of their trip in New York and Kansas (New York State Education Department 2002; unpublished data from Kansas Department of Education for 1971–2001). Effective training programs for other modes, as well as environmental change and adult supervision, are needed to provide for the safety of children who walk to and from school, bus stops, and the like. It is well known that children’s motor, cognitive, and behavioral skills develop chronologically and sequentially. Between the ages of 6 and 8 years, children begin to develop the ability to plan ahead, understand rules, consider consequences of actions, follow a logical sequence of thought, and understand the difference between right and wrong (Flavell 1963; Tyson 2002). Thus, even with training of various programmatic levels and quality, young elementary school-age children cannot be relied upon to make consistent, safe traveling decisions, regardless of the modes they use. Accordingly, age is regarded as a major risk factor in school travel, particularly for those younger than age 10, who are not considered to have internalized the principles of safe travel and thus may not exhibit those principles in their travel behaviors (Sandels 1975; Dewar 2002b). Indeed, the pedestrian road accident rate has been shown to be a function of age (Oxley et al. 1997; NHTSA 1999). Sandels (1975), who has studied the behavior and cognition of children, suggests that the degree of maturity necessary for safe behavior is reached between the ages of 9 and 12. To educate children about traffic safety and implement a successful school transportation safety education program, then, it is important to understand the abilities and limitations of school-age children as they relate to behavior in the roadway and in the school site environment (Dewar 2002b). A program must be developed at a level that corresponds to the cognitive abilities of the children who will be receiving the training. Parents, as well as schools and law enforcement personnel, can assist in this effort. At the same time, it must be noted that the committee was unable to locate sufficient data demonstrating the effectiveness of such safety training programs in decreasing the number and severity of injuries to school-age children. Therefore, attention must also be paid to the environment and infrastructure to safeguard the child pedestrian. (For a thorough review of children’s social and cognitive development and the implications for a traffic environment, see Collins and Gunnar 1990; Dewar 2002b; and Vinje 1981.)

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment A number of personality-related traits (e.g., hostility, alienation) that cannot easily be changed have been shown to be strongly linked to a number of human risk factors, such as risk taking and sensation seeking (behavior that appears to peak between 16 and 19 years of age, then decreases with age; see Dewar 2002b, 124). These personality traits and associated risk factors have been shown to be related to crash involvement (Donovan et al. 1983; Pelz and Schuman 1973). In addition, a relationship has been established between sensation seeking and risky driving (defined as excessive speed, increased frequency of speeding, less seat belt usage, and increased frequency of drinking and driving; see Burns and Wilde 1995; Jonah 1997). Higher risks of involvement in crashes or incidents are associated with age (for both the young and the elderly); driving experience; training received; and temperament and physical condition, including visual acuity, reaction time, information processing ability, stamina, and alcohol impairment levels (Dewar and Olson 2001; Evans and Schwing 1985; Mareck and Sten 1977). Driver risk has been found to be higher for younger than for older drivers and higher for less experienced than for more experienced drivers, other conditions being equal (Chen et al. 2000; Levy 1990; Mayhew and Simpson 1990). The Driver Performance Data Book (Henderson 1987) contains source materials applicable to driving that address such human factors as response times, anthropometrics, visual and auditory performance, and information processing. This information is used by those who design vehicles, roadways, and traffic control devices. There is an extensive base of empirical data to support these materials, and it continues to be broadened (Dewar and Olson 2001). Research in other, less traditional areas also continues to expand the knowledge base on human factors related to driving and to shed light on the effects of experience and situational conditions on driving behavior and accepted risk. Young drivers have been found to be less perceptive than older drivers of risk in the driving environment. One study revealed that young drivers (aged 18–24) detected the presence of children in only 51 percent of the total number of encounters (Egberink et al. 1986); another showed that young drivers were less likely to recognize potential hazards (Brown 1982; Quimby and Watts 1981). The results of these and other studies suggest that careful consideration should be given to the school site, including ingress and egress areas, where young drivers, as well as adult drivers, are likely to encounter pedestrians and bicyclists. Peer pressure, and at times just the presence of peers, is another important factor that influences children’s behavior. There is evidence that the presence of peers in a vehicle is associated with accidents among young drivers (Dewar 2002a). Another study of young drivers (Williams et al. 1997) revealed that if the driver was wearing a safety belt, the passenger was more likely to do so as well. Chen et al. (2000) examined the influence of 16- and 17-year-old drivers having passengers in their vehicles on the likelihood of crashes. They determined that the risk of death rose significantly for young drivers with an increase in the number of passengers, regardless of time of day and gender of the driver.

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Human risk factors such as those reviewed above must be considered not only when making decisions about mode choice, but also when considering procedures and other operational factors (discussed more fully later) that affect the overall safety of a mode. For example, depending on the state or local school district, students traveling by school bus are required to receive safety training at least biannually (NHTSA 2000). This passenger training—a safety feature unique to this mode—includes appropriate behaviors and activities while waiting for and riding on the school bus (e.g., remaining in one’s seat, not distracting the driver, proper boarding and alighting procedures, proper street crossing, emergency evacuation). Students who ride other buses typically do not receive such training, or if they do, it is provided either by parents or through observation of other passengers. Depending on the school system, students who ride as passengers in passenger vehicles may also receive verbal instruction from school administrators on appropriate locations for being dropped off and picked up from school, and on safe procedures for crossing parking lots or streets as required to get to and from the vehicle and the school building. Again, however, such instruction of school-age children is not always successful, durable, or reliable. Unlike drivers of passenger vehicles, bus drivers are generally required to possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or similar license, and receive considerable training. Moreover, federal regulations require drug and alcohol testing of bus drivers (initial, random, on-suspicion, and postcrash). All CDL drivers are required to have a biennial physical, and school bus drivers in many states must have an annual physical. All states, however, do not have parallel requirements, including criminal history checks and other screening procedures. Certain elements of training differ for drivers of school buses and other buses. For example, school bus drivers generally receive specialized training in passenger management, loading and unloading procedures, and vehicle evacuation, as well as additional training in transporting, assisting, and monitoring special-education children. In contrast, the committee’s review of training for drivers of other buses revealed considerable variability across states in training requirements. Relatively few transit agencies provide specific training for bus drivers with regard to transporting school children. At the same time, some transit agencies providing significant levels of transportation for school children instruct bus drivers in a variety of safety-related issues, including security and crossing. Some transit agencies and bus companies have developed administrative relationships with schools and school districts regarding not only discounted fares, but also disciplinary actions for students not complying with safe or appropriate ridership practices. Agencies responsible for transporting school children would benefit from guidelines regarding appropriate and effective training for bus drivers. Beyond the minimum qualifications established by state laws or federal regulations for drivers of school buses and public transit vehicles, then, there is extreme variation with respect to recruitment, selection, and training practices, as well as rates of pay. While the committee believes such a range in practices is

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment likely to be associated with variations in driver safety performance, it was not possible to determine the extent of such variation in practices, let alone the effect of the various practices on student travel safety. A review of factors associated with school bus crashes (about 26,000 per year) would provide information on driver factors, vehicle factors, and contributing causes that would be helpful for districts making decisions about the various modes and measures to improve their safety. As an example, a report on a study by the California Department of Education addressing training requirements for school bus drivers, prepared for the California Highway Patrol (Chapter 1509, California Statutes of 1982), revealed a decrease in frequency of school bus accidents and a decline in accidents caused by school bus drivers after mandatory training requirements were adopted for school bus drivers in 1974. The report validated the need to maintain at least 20 hours of classroom instruction and 20 hours of behind-the-wheel training for school bus drivers. VEHICULAR RISK FACTORS While safety is an important consideration in vehicle design, it is important to recognize that many other criteria are also factored into the design process, including the design and placement of controls and displays, performance, comfort, durability (including life-cycle costing factors), versatility, directional stability, maintainability, packaging (i.e., the arrangement of subsystems and components), air quality, fuel efficiency, cost, and marketability (see Peacock and Karwowski 1993). A number of design elements based on these criteria—including capacity, mass, structure and suspension systems, occupant restraints, and handling and braking—affect driver and passenger safety directly or indirectly. Some vehicles are subject to many standards; others, such as bicycles, are subject to few; and still others, such as skateboards and scooters, are subject to virtually none. Motorized vehicles are regulated by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs). The standards that apply to motor vehicles used to transport school-age children are listed in Table 4-1. It is important to note that vehicle safety standards are performance standards, not design standards. What they accomplish is subject to regulation; how it is accomplished is not. The safety record of school and other buses is due in part to both their mass and design, which in general provide an advantage in most crashes. Standards for school buses have emanated from congressional actions including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the School Bus Safety Amendments of 1974. There are 36 FMVSSs that apply to school buses, 6 of which specify unique requirements for school buses; 4 standards are applicable only to school buses, 21 apply to transit buses and motorcoaches (see Table 4-1), and fewer apply to the various types of passenger vehicles. Apart from obvious features such as vehicle mass, the safety record of school bus service has also been attributed to several unique factors of school buses: they are clearly distinguishable—painted a special color universally recognized by most motorists—and enhanced by other vehicle features, such as flashing red lights; stop arms; and, in at least 20 states and many more school districts, cross-

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment TABLE 4-1 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards FMVSS Number Standard Subject School Bus Other Bus Passenger Vehicle Crash Avoidance 101 Control Location, Identification and Illumination X X X 102 Transmission Shift Lever Sequence, Starter Interlocks and Transmission Braking Effect X X X 103 Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems X X X 104 Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems X X X 105 Hydraulic Brake Systems Xa X X 106 Brake Hoses X X X 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment Xa X X 109 New Pneumatic Tires   Xb 110 Tire Selection and Rims     Xb 111 Rearview Mirrors Xa X X 113 Hood Latches X X X 114 Theft Protection     Xc 116 Motor Vehicle Brake Fluids X X X 117 Retreaded Pneumatic Tires     Xb 118 Power-Operated Window, Partition and Roof Panel Systems   Xc 119 New Pneumatic Tires for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars X X X 120 Tire Selection and Rim for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars X X X 121 Air Brake Systems X X Xd

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment FMVSS Number Standard Subject School Bus Other Bus Passenger Vehicle 122 Motorcycle Brake Systems       123 Motorcycle Control Systems   124 Accelerator Control Systems X X X 125 Warning Devices       129 New Non-Pneumatic Tires for Passenger Cars   Xb 131 School Bus Pedestrian Safety Devices X 135 Passenger Car Brake Systems   Xb Crashworthiness During Crash 201 Occupant Protection in Interior Impact Xe Xe Xb,c 202 Head Restraints Xe Xe Xb,c 203 Impact Protection for the Driver Xe Xe Xb,c 204 Steering Control Rearward Displacement Xe Xe Xb,c 205 Glazing Materials X X X 206 Door Locks and Door Retention Components   X 207 Seating Systems Xf Xf X 208 Occupant Crash Protection Xf,g Xf X 209 Seat Belt Assemblies Xf,g Xf X 210 Seat Belt Assembly Anchorage Xf,g Xf X 212 Windshield Mounting Xe Xe Xb,c

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment 213 Child Restraint Systems Xh Xh Xh 214 Side Impact Protection Xe Xe Xb,c 217 Bus Emergency Exits and Window Retention and Release Xa X 218 Motorcycle Helmets   219 Windshield Zone Intrusion Xe Xe Xb,c 220 School Bus Rollover Protection X 221 School Bus Body Joint Strength X 222 School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection X 225 Child Restraint Anchorage Systems Xi Xi Xb,i Postcrash 301 Fuel System Integrity Xa Xc Xb,c 302 Flammability of Interior Materials X X X 303 Fuel System Integrity of Compressed NG Vehicles Xa Xc X 304 Compressed Natural Gas Fuel Container Integrity   305 Electric-Powered Vehicles: Electrolyte Spillage and Electrical Shock Protection Xe Xe Xb,c 401 Interior Trunk Release   Xb,c 500 Low Speed Vehicles   aDenotes additional unique requirements. bApplies to passenger cars. c Applies to vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. d Applies to trucks. e Applies to school buses, other buses with gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. f Applies to driver’s seat only. g FMVSSs 209 and 210 apply to driver’s seats on all school buses. FMVSSs 209 and 210 apply to passenger seats on school buses of 10,000 pounds or less. h Applies to vehicles with an integral child safety seat. i Applies to vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or less.

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment ing control arms. There are also routinely enforced laws and regulations affording school bus passengers special treatment during their boarding and alighting, as well as street crossings. The fact that public transit buses have two sets of doors—and in some cases three—may be a source of increased risk. Rear doors are activated by the bus operator upon an action of the passenger (e.g., stop chime request) or when a stop is reached. Rear door interlocks are designed to stop the bus from moving when a passenger is holding a rear door open while exiting, since exiting through a rear door takes place outside the direct view of the bus driver. In addition, passengers alighting from rear doors are likely to have a wider gap separating the bus and the curb than those alighting from the front because of the way the driver positions the bus in the loading zone. School buses provide better screening of blind-spot areas than other buses. Transit vehicles have larger blind spots than school buses, and their mirror systems do not help with blind spots in the front of the vehicle caused by such things as the designed location of the farebox. Motorcoaches are designed for travel involving longer distances, with few stops and virtually no street crossings. They contain padded, high-backed, forward-facing seats. Many also have lateral supports and comfort features such as reclining seats and adjustable spacing, and some contain occupant restraint systems. Motorcoaches have emergency windows, including roof hatches and large, well-marked, push-out windows. However, their large passenger windows do not possess the window retention characteristics of school buses, and in rollovers can result in passenger ejection. At the same time, motorcoaches have considerable mass, and many have monocoque construction, pneumatic suspension systems, and antilock braking systems. However, they are not required to pass rollover and side-impact tests mandated for school buses. Unlike school buses, passenger vehicles used for school travel are not required to be a distinctive color or have special lighting, nor must they meet the same safety standards for occupant protection, joint strength of body panels, roof rollover protection, and so on. In addition, passenger vehicles do not have the capacity to transport as many students as school and other buses, nor do they have the same or comparable mass, crashworthiness, conspicuity, maintenance/inspection requirements, and the like. Finally, bicycles lack mass, stability, speed, and conspicuity (except for the bright-colored clothing worn by some bicycle operators). They have minimal crashworthiness characteristics, no restraints, and no maintenance/inspection requirements. OPERATIONAL RISK FACTORS In terms of operational characteristics, state and local school districts have established extensive policies and programs to ensure the safety of school travelers. Much of the guidance for these actions comes from Highway Safety Program Guideline 17, Pupil Transportation Safety, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This guideline, which was originally

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment a standard, “establishes minimum recommendations for a state highway safety program for pupil transportation safety including the identification, operation, and maintenance of buses used for carrying students; training passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders; and administration” (NHTSA 2000, xx). School buses serve all types of areas (urban, suburban, and rural), all ages of children (prekindergarten through high school), and children with disabilities and special needs. They usually operate according to fixed routes with designated stops or, for some categories of passengers (e.g., children with special needs), may provide door-to-door service according to a fixed schedule. School bus drivers are responsible for the safety and well-being of their passengers, including discipline. Unlike drivers of other forms of public transportation, however, school bus drivers cannot order an unruly student passenger off the bus (the driver can ask system officials to suspend the student, pending correction of the misbehavior). School bus drivers also have more responsibility for the safety of students while they are pedestrians, particularly as the drivers must provide student riders regular safety instruction and participate proactively in the students’ crossing in front of the bus. (On undivided roadways, drivers are not to discharge students until other vehicles traveling in both the same and opposing directions have stopped in response to the driver’s engagement of flashing lights and stop arms.) Some states also require riders to wait for the bus driver’s signal to cross the roadway. All school bus passengers ride seated. In fact, typical transit practices whereby students begin to walk toward the door as the vehicle approaches their stop are prohibited. Although other bus drivers certainly have responsibilities for monitoring and assisting school children and others in crossing, these responsibilities are limited. This is the case largely because passengers cross behind the bus, except when it is stopped at the near side of a signalized intersection and the signal instructs pedestrians to cross. The legal responsibility for such activities varies significantly from state to state. In the state of Missouri, for example, a safe stop includes (a) the place where the passenger steps off the bus, (b) the area around the bus, (c) the intersection where the bus has pulled over, and (d) a safe path to the likely primary origins and destinations of most passengers. In contrast, Pennsylvania law restricts the responsibility for a bus’s operation to such time as it is in motion, effectively defining liability for loading and unloading out of existence. Driver responsibilities reflect these state-to-state differences and must be taken into consideration in an evaluation of comparative safety and relative risk. The design goals and operating objectives of school and other buses reflect different needs. Other buses must accommodate a broader range of passengers (including school children), different destinations (including schools), different duty cycles and operating environments (some similar to those of pupil transportation), and special user groups (elderly and disabled individuals). However, the peak-hour nature of the majority of transit trips and the uneven distribution of passengers within these peaks lead to overcrowding and other operational issues. These issues, in turn, must be addressed by vehicle and operating characteristics—such as room for standees; vertical and horizontal stanchions;

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment flat, unpadded, and side-facing seats; irregular positioning of modesty panels; and other amenities not optimized specifically for student riders. And because passengers board and alight at the same stops—an occurrence virtually nonexistent in school bus service—passenger movement, boarding, alighting, crossing, fare collection, wheelchair securement, lift usage, and so on are considerably different than with school bus usage. Most important, because passengers do not cross in front of the bus, driver attention is diverted to many places it would not be during school bus loading, unloading, or crossing. Most bus operating agencies are involved in planning, education, monitoring, and inspection. They receive input from a variety of regulatory agencies and local (school district or transit agency) staff and their contractors. In addition to drivers, operators often employ managers, supervisors, planners, system designers, schedulers, reservation personnel, dispatchers, training instructors, mechanics, marketing and outreach personnel, and other technical and administrative support personnel. Each of these disciplines has its own set of standards, procedures, policies, training programs, and oversight, and each plays an important role in the safety of bus transportation. Students riding in transit or other buses to and from school face a number of operational factors that differ from those they encounter on a school bus. First, they are subject to commingling with the general population. Second, as noted above, they must generally cross the street behind the bus rather than in front of it, except when the bus is stopped at the near side of a signalized intersection and the signal instructs pedestrians to cross. They must cross with no help from equipment and limited, if any, help from the driver of the bus and fellow motorists. And these buses do not have identifying marks and flashing lights to indicate that they are carrying student passengers or that students are boarding or alighting, nor are motorists required to stop for transit buses loading and unloading passengers. Third, these students also often spend more time than school bus riders as pedestrians walking to and from and waiting at the bus stop. A considerable statutory and regulatory structure exists for passenger vehicles (e.g., mandatory child safety seat laws in all states and seat belt laws in many states), including distinctions that reflect driver age, such as graduated licensing programs (for a review, see Foss and Evenson 1999). In contrast, the framework for travel by bicycle and walking is generally personal; provided by parents, relatives, and friends; and often learned through observation and experience, occasionally with a contribution by the school. Students traveling to and from school in a passenger vehicle often leave directly from their home (or origin of trip) and thus do not make another trip, using a different mode, to an indirect transfer point (i.e., a bus stop). As a consequence, the total trip length and trip time are generally shorter and the routing more direct than is the case for bus trips (unless multiple students are being transported in the same vehicle from different origins to different destinations). Passenger vehicles also have the ability to pick up and drop off passengers directly at their originating point and destination, without the need to cross roadways or walk to bus stops. Like other non–school bus modes, however, passenger

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment 10. Are routes and pick-up/drop-off locations selected, designed, and checked periodically for safety? Yes No 11. Are school-age children required to cross roads with less than average traffic volume only to get to and from the bus stop?     12. Do driver training programs meet the recommendations of NHTSA’s Guideline 17?     13. Do all drivers comply with FMCSA hours-of-service requirements?     14. Are onboard monitors required for the transportation of special-needs pupils?     15. Are all passengers provided a safe seat?     16. Are crossing guards employed to assist school-age children who need to cross the street?     17. Are roadways around the school adequate, safely designed, and in good repair?     18. Are passenger loading/unloading zones adequate and safely designed?     19. Are traffic flow patterns designed to avoid or minimize people–vehicle and vehicle–vehicle (e.g., bus and passenger vehicle) interactions/conflicts?     20. Are speed limits in school zones obeyed?     21. Are traffic control devices properly installed and maintained?     22. Are video cameras installed on the buses?     Checklist for Other Bus Questions Yes No 1. Do all buses meet current required FMVSSs?     2. Have all drivers been properly trained?     3. Do school-age passengers receive training in loading, alighting, proper behavior while on board, and emergency procedures?     4. Are school bus passengers under 60 pounds transported in child safety seats?     5. Do the passengers on the bus behave properly to minimize driver distraction?     6. Do all drivers comply with FMCSA hours-of-service requirements?     7. Are all school-age passengers provided a safe seat?     8. Is after-hours/late bus service provided?     9. Are routes and pick-up/drop-off locations checked for safety periodically?     10. Are pupil passengers kept separate from the general public?    

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment 11. Are school-age children required to cross roads with less than average traffic volume only to get to and from the bus stop? Yes No 12. Are crossing guards employed to assist school-age children who need to cross the street?     13. Are roadways around the school adequate and in good repair?     14. Are passenger loading/unloading zones adequate and safely designed?     15. Are traffic flow patterns designed to avoid or minimize people–vehicle and vehicle–vehicle (e.g., bus and passenger vehicle) interactions/ conflicts?     16. Are speed limits obeyed?     17. Are traffic control devices properly installed and maintained?     18. Are video cameras installed on the buses?     As mentioned previously, all motorized vehicles are subject to FMVSSs. In 1977, NHTSA issued three new FMVSSs and modified four others to enhance the safety of school bus transportation. However, some school buses that were built prior to 1977 and thus do not incorporate these more recent safety features are still used to transport school-age children. This use of older buses puts their passengers at greater risk. The committee did not specifically address the issue of lap belts on school buses, given the previous TRB report (TRB 1989) and recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports (NTSB 1999; NTSB 2000) addressing this issue. The NTSB (2000) report indicates that compartmentalization is an incomplete measure for lateral impact with vehicles of large mass and in rollover collisions. A more recent NHTSA report (NHTSA 2002), prepared since this committee completed its deliberations, shows that a lap/shoulder belt restraint system is superior to compartmentalization and to lap belts used in conjunction with compartmentalization. As school buses are replaced, they should have the newest and safest occupant protection system. California is the only state at present to have adopted lap/shoulder restraints for all school buses beginning in the 2004–2005 school year (California Vehicle Code Section 27316, Chapter 581, Statutes of 2001). NHTSA’s ongoing research program is also addressing side-impact protection. As discussed earlier, drivers of buses must possess a current CDL or other appropriate license or certification, and many operators provide periodic retraining and refresher training. Retraining occurs when a driver has had a given number of crashes and is required to undergo retraining in a particular area (this training does not involve all drivers in the system). Refresher training is given over a period of time for all drivers to keep their skills honed. It generally includes defensive driver training, passenger safety, fatigue awareness, and envi-

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment ronmental and site-specific issues (e.g., snow, fog, security). Many believe this refresher training should occur at least annually, but the committee found insufficient evaluative documentation identifying the best time interval between refresher courses or the specific components that should be included in the training. It is also important for students to receive training on proper school travel behavior and safety, as discussed earlier, but once again, no evaluation studies could be found that indicated how often this training should be given for best retention or how the training should be carried out. In the general roadway environment, it has been shown that heterogeneous traffic results in increased traffic fatalities (Fazio et al. 1999). Thus to further increase safety, modes should be separated in time (through dedicated movement times; e.g., no vehicles may be in an occupied crosswalk) or space (e.g., through pedestrian overpasses or tunnels). Special signage may also be used (see, e.g., Retting et al. 1996). If there are traffic signals at the ingress/egress points of the school, right-turn-on-red should probably not be permitted (see Preusser et al. 1984).1 Criteria for effective traffic control devices include conspicuity, legibility, glance legibility, comprehension, and response time. Various methods for evaluation of traffic control devices are available (see, e.g., Dewar and Ells 1974; Dewar and Ells 1984). Detailed analysis of the design and use of painted road markings has also been undertaken (see Commission internationale de l’eclairage 1988). Checklist for Passenger Vehicle with Driver Younger Than 19 Questions Yes No 1. Is seat belt compliance high?     2. Is a graduated driver licensing program being used?     3. Are drivers alcohol and drug free?     4. Is driver education conducted?     5. Are the students required to remain on school grounds during school session hours unless they are enrolled in a work–study program or have special circumstances (e.g., doctor appointment, sickness)?     6. Are roadways around the school adequate and in good repair?     7. Are traffic flow patterns designed to avoid or minimize people–vehicle and vehicle–vehicle (e.g., bus and passenger vehicle) interactions/conflicts?     8. Are speed limits obeyed?     9. Do drivers show caution toward pedestrians on school grounds?     10. Are traffic control devices properly installed and maintained?     1 For more information on street design and traffic calming, the reader is referred to the websites of ITE (www.ite.org) and the Surface Transportation Policy Project (www.transact.org).

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment Because of the rates of injuries and fatalities for passenger vehicles with teen drivers (see Chapter 3), the committee discourages the use of this mode. However, a number of risk factors could be addressed to help decrease the risk associated with this mode. For example, it has been estimated that the adoption and enforcement of primary safety belt use laws in all states could reduce the risk of nonfatal injuries by 2 percent and fatalities by 9 percent for individuals in passenger vehicles (Dinh-Zarr et al. 2001). Graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs (especially those with passenger limitations) may also reduce the risks associated with this mode. Such programs have proven effective in some states. In Michigan and North Carolina, for example, implementation of GDL provisions has led to marked reductions in crashes. According to Foss et al. (2001), Shope et al. (2001), and McKnight and Peck (2002), a carefully designed GDL system that introduces young drivers to driving in stages and provides practical experience for extended periods of time before unrestricted driving is permitted has been found to reduce crashes by 20 to 25 percent in the first years of driving. [See Foss and Evenson (1999) for a detailed review and analysis of evaluations of existing GDL systems.] Having a closed campus where unwarranted transportation during school hours is controlled can also reduce the possibility of crashes, and hence resulting fatalities and injuries. Given the age of the driver (below age 19) for this mode, the human risk factors described earlier in this chapter need to be taken into consideration. For example, as noted above, previous studies of the driving behavior of young drivers have provided much useful information about the relationship between crashes and such behaviors as alcohol and substance use, risk taking, and sensation seeking. If compliance with speed limits, traffic signals, and the like is low, the risk associated with these factors is higher. Finally, the previous discussion of the importance of traffic flow patterns and separation of different modes (especially at the school location), proper installation of traffic control devices, and adequate repair of roadways around the school applies equally to this mode. Checklist for Passenger Vehicle with Driver 19 and Older Questions Yes No 1. Is seat belt compliance high?     2. Are drivers alcohol and drug free?     3. Are roadways around the school adequate and in good repair?     4. Are traffic flow patterns designed to avoid or minimize people–vehicle and vehicle–vehicle (e.g., bus and passenger vehicle) interactions/conflicts?     5. Are speed limits obeyed?     6. Do drivers show caution toward pedestrians on school grounds?     7. Are traffic control devices properly installed and maintained?    

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment With the exception of GDL and driver education programs, the items on this checklist are the same as those for passenger vehicles with driver younger than 19. Most of the issues are the same as well, except those related specifically to younger drivers, and the reader is referred to the preceding discussion. It should be noted, however, that driver education programs have not been shown to be effective. Checklist for Bicycling and Walking Questions Yes No 1. Is appropriate crossing protection provided at intersections (e.g., crossing guards, signals, special signage)?     2. Are students trained in safe bicycling and walking behaviors and practices?     3. Are young bicyclists and walkers supervised or accompanied en route?     4. Are bicycle helmets required and used? Is compliance enforced?     5. Are safe and secure bicycling and walking routes designated?     6. Are bicycle paths and sidewalks available and in good repair?     7. Are traffic flow patterns designed to avoid or minimize people–vehicle and vehicle–vehicle (e.g., bus and passenger vehicle) interactions/ conflicts?     8. Are students on bicycles required to dismount and walk their bicycles on school property?     9. Are minimum walking distances realistic, given the associated risks?     10. Are traffic control devices properly installed and maintained?     Many interventions or countermeasures can be implemented to mitigate the risks to school-age children associated with these two modes. In particular, the risk of fatality and injury to a child bicyclist could be significantly reduced if bicycle helmets were worn universally. A meta-analysis of data from several countries indicates that bicycle helmets reduce the likelihood of bicyclist fatalities by 73 percent, of head injury by 60 percent, and of brain injury by 58 percent in crashes (Attewell et al. 2001). The committee was unable to find objective evaluations of bicycling safety programs and walking programs for children; however, numerous such programs exist, and they are part of the overall education of many school-age children. As

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment discussed earlier, age-appropriate educational programs, properly designed and evaluated, should be a component of the strategies used to enhance the safety of children traveling to and from school by these modes. In addition, operational improvements have been achieved through the installation of bicycle paths; to date, however, their safety impact has not been demonstrated (Harkey et al. 1998; Harkey and Stewart 1997). FHWA has published a Good Practices Guide for Bicycle Safety Education (2002); NHTSA, FHWA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety (2001); CDC and NHTSA have published National Strategies for Advancing Child Pedestrian Safety (2001); and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) has published a Walkability Checklist. These resources identify goals communities should strive to attain and provide much information on actions that can be taken to achieve those goals. These actions can in turn mitigate the risks identified in this chapter that are of concern for school-age children.2 Finally, the risk of injuries and fatalities from bicycling and walking could be reduced if the interaction of different/mixed modes were minimized by reducing the number of times they must come together. For example, an infrastructure that included sidewalks, bicycle paths, and dedicated school-site access/egress for passenger vehicles in one area and bicyclists in another might be considered to increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. In addition, once on campus, bicycles should be walked. SUMMARY In assessing the comparative safety of the various school travel modes, their relative risks, and measures that can be taken to enhance their safety, one must consider a broad range of factors, as set forth in this chapter. It is also important to keep in mind that the risks associated with each mode are partly generic (e.g., buses have a greater mass than automobiles or bicycles) and partly with respect to conditions at the local level (e.g., a bicycle path may be safer than a road). Also to be taken into account are the community’s resources and values. The risk level of each mode can be affected positively or negatively by a variety of factors involved in its operations, as well as in the local infrastructure and environment. In many cases, engineering, education, and enforcement interventions whose effectiveness has already been proven by research can have a highly beneficial impact. 2 There are many websites that address bicycle and walking safety. See, for example, the websites of PBIC (www.pedbikeinfo.org and www.walkinginfo.org.), the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (www.bikefed.org), U.S. Access Board (www.access-board.gov), NHTSA Traffic Safety Programs (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/), the National SAFE KIDS Campaign (www.safekids.org), America Walks (www.americawalks.org), the Partnership for a Walkable America of the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org/walkable.htm), and Street Design and Traffic Calming for Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/index.htm).

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The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment The difficulty of evaluating the risks and making decisions accordingly is compounded by the fact that school trips often involve the use of more than one mode. Changes involving one mode used in the trip may affect the risks associated with the other, and in some cases may compound them. In addition, though students often go directly to school in the morning, they may take very different trips returning home in the afternoon, greatly complicating the analysis in this study and making it more difficult to define a school trip. The integration or coordination of different modes, such as school bus and transit service, raises new challenges and opportunities that must be addressed at the operating level (e.g., both drivers and students may need different training), at the vehicle level (e.g., the features such vehicles should have to accommodate crossing), at the societal level (e.g., concerns for security and liability), at the human level (e.g., whether such hybrid services may be less safe for school children of certain ages), and at the environmental level (e.g., changes in roads, signage, and other infrastructure to accommodate the services). Such changes are often complex, reflecting decades of development and refinement aimed at optimizing safety and other aspects of these modes as traditionally operated. As NTSB has pointed out with respect to the comparative safety of school bus and motorcoach vehicles, a vehicle’s safety is largely reflective of the type of service for which it is designed and in which it is operated. Finally, it must be reiterated that while data presented in this report and elsewhere provide valuable insights regarding the safety of the various school travel modes and often the vehicles they deploy, such data are likely to be misleading if used to make policy changes at the local level without considering the factors that affect the safety of school travel for that community. While modes indeed have certain generic characteristics, it is also true that many of their characteristics differ markedly from place to place. Local conditions affecting these characteristics must be considered in such analyses and evaluations. Some factors in each of the five categories can be controlled by policies at the local, state, and federal levels. Other factors, such as age and gender, cannot be changed but must be considered when making policy decisions. Still others, such as safety education, bicycle helmet laws, and availability of crosswalks, can be changed through direct policy choices made by decision makers. Infrastructure must be designed and constructed to accommodate the needs of children. The information provided in this chapter can be used to understand how the national risk estimates for each mode presented in Chapter 3 can be adjusted for local conditions and programs. REFERENCES Abbreviations CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FHWA Federal Highway Administration FTA Federal Transit Administration

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