Assessing Multimodal School Travel Safety in North Carolina

Key takeaway: Biking and pedestrian injuries generate high economic costs.


  • Passenger vehicles with teen drivers had higher injury and fatality rates for school travel for children ages 5-18 than any other mode.
  • More 90% of injuries and fatalities involved passenger vehicles. Travel by school bus accounted for 6% of injuries and 2% fatalities, and walking and bicycling accounted for less than 2% of annual injuries and 6% of annual fatalities.
    • Walking and bicycling had lower injury rates per trip than passenger vehicles, but injuries to non-motorized travelers were more severe.
    • Bicycling and walking had the highest cost per injury among school travel modes because these modes had a higher proportion of severe injuries.
    • The researchers suggest responding to these statistics with continued funding for Safe Routes to School initiatives like built environment improvements to facilitate safer travel by active modes.


  • This study combines crash data on injuries in North Carolina with exposure data from the National Household Travel Survey from 2005-2012. The study estimates economic costs of injuries and fatalities using the value of a statistical life reported by the USDOT.

McDonald, N., McGrane, A.B., Rodgman, E.A., Steiner, R.L., Palmer, W.M., Lytle, B.F. (2014). Assessing multimodal school travel safety in North Carolina. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 74, 126-132.

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