Bus Accident Statistics

Categories: Bus Accidents

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While most of us use cars as our primary form of transportation, there are many areas in the country where buses are popular as well. Most people understand what to do in the event of a car accident, but bus accidents can be significantly more challenging to navigate. 

Are busses more dangerous than cars, then? Let’s explore bus accident statistics to find out.

Bus Accidents by the Numbers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has annual reports that provide statistics on fatal, injury-causing, and property-damage only accidents involving either large trucks or buses. 

This report contains information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System, and the Federal Highway Administration’s highway statistics.

According to the FMCSA Commercial Motor Vehicles report, there are over 30,000 commercial buses and 450,000 school buses in the United States. 

Almost 360 million people take the bus at least once per year, either for intercity transport or longer trips. These trips result in a combined total of 28 billion miles traveled every year, but only result in an average of 283 fatalities. 

Unfortunately, the FMCSA report doesn’t distinguish between buses and large trucks when reporting fatalities or general bus usage. However, the latest report shows that 73 school buses and 13 intercity buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2017, the lowest number since 1975. 

Between 2007 and 2017, school buses made up 40%, intercity buses 13%, and transit buses 35% of all buses involved in fatal crashes.

Slightly older data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that buses and other commercial motor vehicles are more likely to get in a fatal accident, even though the fatality is often another driver, a pedestrian, or cyclist. 

The bus occupant fatality rate was 45 deaths per 100,000 accidents in 2011, which is startlingly lower than the passenger car fatality rate of 251 deaths per 100,000 accidents. 

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Another study from the Journal of Safety Research (JSR), published one year after the NTSB report notes that buses are more dangerous than cars. While bus accidents are relatively rare, making up a tiny fraction of all roadside accidents, the number of bus accidents per million passenger miles is roughly equal to that of car accidents per million driven miles.

This data suggests that a passenger in a bus has roughly the same chance of getting in an accident as a car driver, assuming they drive the same distance, but they are more likely be severely injured in the bus accident. 

Common Causes of Bus Accidents

When it comes to accidents, there are two broad categories of causes:


  • Driver error: Mistakes by drivers that result in accidents include negligence, reckless driving, distracted driving, or driving under the influence of intoxicants. They can also include small errors, like failing to check blind spots or having inadequate training.
  • Mechanical failure: Examples of mechanical failure include a blown tire, worn brakes, or engine problems. Many buses are poorly maintained, which can lead to a significant increase in the risk of mechanical failure. 


According to the JSR study, only 4% of bus drivers involved in accidents were charged with offenses such as speeding, driving while intoxicated, or driving while drowsy. Similarly, 83% of drivers involved in accidents didn’t show any signs of risky driving, suggesting that often, the causes of bus accidents aren’t due to bus drivers themselves.

However, the same study also showed that buses driven by older drivers, especially those over the age of 65, had a 52.3% higher likelihood of passenger injury. However, due to cost-cutting, poor maintenance is also a likely culprit in many bus accidents. 

Determining fault is a large part of a personal injury claim. Unlike simple passenger car accidents, determining fault can get complicated in bus accident cases, because bus drivers often work for companies that are responsible for maintaining the buses and training the drivers. 

What Do These Statistics Mean?

Overall, the general trend seen in bus accident statistics suggests that buses are a relatively safe form of transportation. Bus passengers are just as likely to get involved in an accident as car drivers. While US bus accidents are rare and decreasing, they still cause a fair number of fatal accidents on the road every year.

In addition to causing injury to bus passengers, bus accidents can also do significant harm to other motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. You don’t have to be sitting on the bus to get involved in a bus accident. 

Due to their sheer size and weight, bus accidents are also often more severe than similar accidents involving passenger vehicles. 

What to Do After a Bus Accident 

If you’ve been in a bus accident, you should treat it like any other car accident. The first step is to secure the scene of the accident and contact emergency services and law enforcement. 

Even if you feel fine at the time of the accident, you should still accept medical help. Shock can mask many signs of trauma, and if you refuse treatment, you may struggle to prove the accident caused your injuries. 

Wherever possible, try to document the scene and get the contact details of everyone involved. The police will often write up their own report of the accident, and it’s worthwhile to get a copy of that report. Be sure to document all your medical reports and bills after the accident and keep track of any other expenses you incur.

If you’ve been seriously injured in a bus accident, you should seek the advice of an attorney. Often, you can claim your medical expenses and loss of income, if you can show that the accident was the fault of a third party. By speaking to us as soon as the accident happens, you maximize the chances of getting fair compensation for your injuries. Even small bus accident cases can rapidly escalate, and it’s always a good idea to have someone on your side. 

If you have been injured in a Palm Beach county bus accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D.Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call 561-202-6673 now. 

Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.

Brian D. Guralnick

About the Author: Brian D. Guralnick

Brian D. Guralnick has been successfully representing injured accident victims in Florida since 1993. He has been voted “Best of the Best” personal injury lawyer by the Palm Beach Post for multiple years. If you have been injured in any type of accident, please call Brian and his team 24/7 at 561-202-6673.