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Why do school buses in the US only use yellow?

The iconic yellow truck is a part of American culture, as well as a part of the lives of generations of children.

Everything about the yellow school bus is geared towards safety. Back in 1939, Dr. Frank Cyr (later known as the “father of the yellow bus”) organized a nationwide meeting about school bus safety. Representatives from each state will jointly decide on the common standards for new bus models. It should be noted that in 1939, cars were not yet available, so what happened could be like a revolution.

A school bus in Wisconsin, with its distinctive yellow color, stop sign on the left side. Photo: Wisconsin State Journal

Officials agree on things like how tall school buses should be, and of course, color. Scientific research shows that bright colors, especially yellow, are the most attention-grabbing and most noticeable tones. So yellow makes perfect sense for buses that pick up students early in the morning: sleepy drivers will quickly see the yellow color of the bus from afar, stop in time to give way, and students can ride safely. At dusk, or when it’s foggy, yellow is also easier to see from a distance than other colors.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends a similar yellow tint, although some states have tweaked it and allow the bonnet and/or fenders to be black.

Behind a school bus there are also many warnings: Do not pass when the red light is on, This bus stops at every railroad crossing, and You will lose your driver's license and pay a $5,000 fine.  Put safety first.  Do not pass when the red light is on.  Photo: CFCY

Behind a school bus, there are many warnings: “Do not pass when the red light is on”, “This bus stops at every railroad crossing”, and “You will lose your license and pay 5,000 USD fines. Put safety first. Don’t pass when the red light is on.” Photo: CFCY

Today, school buses in the US have another secret besides the yellow color, which is black rails on the side of the car. These metal bars are said to function as an extra layer of protection for the thin wall of the car, helping to absorb the force of impact.

Buses are also equipped with a range of devices to ensure maximum safety for students. The signal lights on the vehicle must be turned on from 30 to 91 meters from the stop to signal to other drivers. In addition, to prevent other vehicles from passing by the bus that is stopping to pick up and drop off students, the Stop sign on the left side is opened.

Start-lock system to prevent engine starting if an emergency door is locked, audible warning if an emergency door is not securely closed when the engine is running. In particular, the body structure of the school bus consists of an integrated anti-roll frame with a series of emergency exits.

Since the mid-1940s, most states in the United States have mandated that other vehicles must stop when they encounter a bus that is picking up or dropping off students. Therefore, it is illegal to pass by when a school bus has its warning signals on.

Why are school buses in the US yellow?

The “arm” is 1m8 long with a stop sign on a school bus in Texas, USA. Video: The Dallas Morning News

Usually, drivers coming from the opposite direction are only allowed to pass a stopped bus if there is a hard median in the middle of the road, or there is a 5th lane (middle lane) with a solid yellow line. Some states and local governments also require that the stop sign on the left side of the bus be extended (about 1.8m) to increase identification, when opened, it can prevent crossing into the opposite lane, ensuring students cross the road safely. whole.

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