TORRANCE, Calif. — New research on fatal crashes involving school buses shows that about half of the collisions occurred between 6 and 9 a.m. and that about half involved another vehicle striking the bus from the front, side or rear, according to a report in School Transportation News.

The research was carried out by the Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the report said, and is based on 2008 crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

School buses accounted for 39 percent of all the buses in the data pool, and school bus crashes accounted for 40 percent of the bus-related fatalities nationwide that year, the Transportation News reported.

The data does not always specify whether the crash occurred during normal school bus routes or extracurricular activities, the Transportation News reported. Most crashes involved standard buses, but some involved buses equipped with wheelchair lifts, or mini-buses, according to the Transportation News.

Of the 120 fatal crashes involving school buses in 2008, 88 involved public school district buses and 27 involved school buses owned or operated by private school bus contractors, the Transportation News reported. “School buses” owned by non-school organizations, such as churches, also are included in the school bus category. The report did not say how many total school buses are in each of the categories.

School Transportation News, “University Research Compares School Bus Safety with Other Modes,” June 7, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Schools Contract Out More Than Ever,” Sept. 10, 2010