“Why are school buses yellow?”

It seems like such a strange question, and maybe you’ve never even asked it, but we wouldn’t be surprised if your curious students or your own children have! You might not know how to answer them, and we don’t blame you. It’s hard to envision a time when school buses weren’t yellow. In fact, you probably can’t envision that time, as the standardization of that color happened many decades ago.

Today, the bright color of school buses serves quite a few practical purposes.

Yellow Buses Help Students Find Their Rides

If you’re a young child, it can be frightening riding in a vehicle without your parents for the first time. What if you get in the wrong vehicle? What if you don’t even know what that vehicle looks like?

It’s a scary part of attending school at first, but painting school buses bright yellow takes some of that anxiety away. Few cars on the road are even a remotely similar hue, which makes it easy for even the youngest scholars to find where they need to go.

Yellow Encourages Other Drivers to Be Careful

While the vehicles used by student transportation services are some of the safest on the road from a structural standpoint, an eye-catching color only adds to their safety.

Indeed, it’s hard to miss a school bus, with its flashing lights, massive size, and, of course, that familiar color. That shade of yellow serves as a wakeup call to other drivers on the road, reminding them to snap to attention and drive carefully – there’s precious cargo onboard.

It’s More Visible Than Other Colors in Bad Weather

Group transportation services have a responsibility to take care of their charges, come rain or shine, fog or storms. A bright color helps their vehicles do just that.

Buses are relatively easy to notice compared to standard cars or even semi trucks in bad weather, which helps to prevent accidents. It also makes it easier for kids to find their rides, even when they can’t see their hands in front of their faces.

Being Noticeable Helps Bus Drivers Do Their Jobs

It’s easier for class B CDL holders to drive safely when other drivers facilitate it by behaving courteously. By working in a vehicle that’s so noticeable it can’t help but make other denizens of the road back off, workers in school bus services can concentrate on finishing their routes on time and minding the students behind them. Plus, it’s certainly less stressful when other drivers mind themselves – we all can attest to this!

Indeed, the bright yellow hue of school buses everywhere keeps students safe and makes riding the bus a seamless experience from start to finish for drivers and children alike. Circling back to our opening, though – what made school buses yellow in the first place?

Was there just an authoritative decision made by a singular authority? Was the color originally just some arbitrary fad?

When Did School Buses Become Yellow?

Let’s rewind a bit, back to the 1600s. At that time, automobiles weren’t even in existence, let alone school bus services. Education was not mandatory and was mostly provided by local churches, so there was little en masse need for a transportation system. As education became compulsory in the United States, however, and the Industrial Revolution took ahold of the country, the need for such a system arose.

At first, it wasn’t standardized by any means. School buses had no way they “had” to look, even though by 1910 quite a few states had official student transportation services programs of some sort. The system wasn’t completely modernized by our standards, and sometimes it was downright inefficient.

Though it was now the 1900s and automobiles and buses of sorts soon were used, horses and buggies hadn’t entirely kicked the bucket, and for some children from farming communities, getting to school was still a major hassle. Many buses also remained unsafe and poorly visible; yellow, though sometimes used, had not been fully adopted.

In 1939, a conference was organized to fix these various problems. School bus services, it seemed, needed to all be held to an identical standard to ensure economic efficiency for both manufacturers and districts in addition to the safety of the students. During this conference, attendees, some of which were representatives from bus companies and paint companies, worked together to propose a sort of one-size-fits-all vehicle for districts everywhere.

This plan, of course, included important structural safety revisions, but it also included a standardized color. The iconic school bus yellow was selected for its visibility, but making that selection took some deliberation! Some attendees, for example, wanted to paint all buses red, white, and blue to inspire a patriotic attitude among students.

Many parts of the modern school bus have changed since then as the industry moves forward, but that yellow color has always stuck around, and for good reason – or reasons, we should say!

Contact Northstar Bus Lines for Smart Student Transportation Services

We know and respect our history, and we invite you to read about ours! Judge for yourself what it says about our calibur as a school bus contractor, and for the best school bus services around, give our Maple Grove location a call at 763-425-2542.