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Paper 8th October 2001 - LGRAS(01)3


1. The Scottish Executive receives, from time to time, correspondence relating to the safety of children travelling on school buses. In particular, concerns have been expressed to Ministers about the risks to children after alighting from a school bus. Other than occasional media reports, little is known centrally about accidents of this type.

2. The information collected on the STATS 19 form can identify a school pupil (aged 4 - 16 years) on a journey to or from school and the mode of transport used. (The system does not identify as pupils on a journey to or from school those aged 17 years or over.) In the case of children travelling by bus, the information does not distinguish between ordinary public service vehicles and special contract school buses.

3. The information recorded on the STATS 19 form can also identify accidents in which passengers were boarding or alighting from such vehicles. However, a person involved in an accident after safely alighting from a vehicle is classed as a pedestrian and cannot be distinguished from other pedestrian casualties.

4. The GB Quality Review of Road Accident Injury Statistics, which has just started (see paper LGRAS[01] 5), will consider a change to the STATS 19 return to identify child casualties who have just alighted from a school bus. However, the Review will also consider proposals for the collection of many other types of information, and the outcome is uncertain, nor will it be known for some time.

5. Earlier this year, at a meeting with the Minister for Transport and Planning, the availability of information about school transport related accidents was raised. It was suggested, by a retired police officer, who was one of those meeting the Minister, that it would be relatively easy for the police to provide information about accidents in their areas involving children who had just alighted from a bus on the way to or from school. The Minister undertook to look into this question.

6. The Scottish Executive has recently commissioned research to seek information about the extent of child pedestrian accidents on the way to and from school with particular reference to casualties who had just got off a bus - public service or contract. The research, which is due for completion in Spring 2002, will involve analysis of police accident records, and is described briefly in paper LGRAS(01) 2. The Executive would also like to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Group's meeting to discuss matters relating to the collection of such information, in order that any subsequent decision on this can be informed by the views of Members of the Group.

7. Accordingly, police force representatives on LGRAS are invited to consider:

  • whether their forces would be prepared to provide to the Scottish Executive information about accidents involving children who had just alighted from a bus on the way to or from school;

and, if such information were to be supplied:

  • how easy or difficult it would be to provide the information (i) retrospectively - e.g. for accidents which occurred with effect from (say) January 2001 and (ii) for accidents which occur from (say) the start of January 2002;
  • what guidance/definitions would be required to identify cases on a sufficiently consistent basis across Scotland. (NB: subsequently, different guidance/definitions might be used if it were decided, following the Quality Review, that such information should be included in the GB-wide "STATS 19" specification); and
  • how such information might best be provided - e.g. in the form of an annual return of the total numbers? a list of accidents? using the "Special Projects" field in the "STATS 19" Casualty records?