Why are school buses yellow? – History, Science, facts

School Bus

Yellow school buses were used for the first time in North America in 1939. The culture spread to USA and Canada, where now yellow is the official color for all school buses. Like other colors, yellow plays a significant role in daily life. The color of the buses may not be pure yellow, but at a glance, all school buses look the same.

Is the School Bus Yellow or some other color?

The original color resembles a mixture of lemon-yellow and orange, similar to a ripe mango. Though the color is aesthetically appealing, it has more benefits that make life easier in different ways. Like the traffic lights that do not have written messages, there are reasons why school buses are yellow. Color coding works very well by ensuring everyone can identify these vehicles.

Scientific View

From a scientific view, red has a maximum wavelength of up to 650 nm. It is visible even far, much more than white. It does not scatter quickly and can be seen from a far distance.

But why was Red not chosen as the ideal school bus instead of yellow? Here are reasons why school buses are yellow.

1. Yellow is Bold Color

Yellow is visible from a distance, making it easy for other road users to see. Human eyes are sensitive to bright colors, and yellow is one of them. Students are transported early in the morning, and school terms run throughout various seasons, including winter. The color grabs students’ attention as they can easily spot the vehicles early in the morning when visibility is still not so good.

2. Visible in dim lighting

Yellow can be seen in the fog, dew, and rain. It illuminates naturally, making it relatively visible even in dim light. Children waiting for buses in the morning can spot them from far, and other vehicles can see them parked at pick-up points. The bottom line is that yellow makes school buses visible in dim lighting and increases safety.

School Bus

3. Human Peripheral Vision

According to science, this color’s lateral peripheral vision is 1.24 more than that of the red color. The primary reason behind the yellow painting of the buses is to prevent accidents and ensure children safely reach their schools and homes.

It is easy to spot the color even when not looking at it directly. The black lettering on the buses contrasts with the color, and students can quickly spot their buses among many others.

History of yellow school buses

In the 1900s, students used to walk to school on foot. It was exhausting and not safe for students. As the century ended, a company known as Wayne Works started making horse-drawn carriages to help students go to school. Though they were not fast and students were still exposed to harsh weather, they were better than walking.

In the 20th century, the motor industry expanded, and Wayne Works Company started using a motor in their carriages. The first bus was built around 1927 by Ford, and it is one of the best because children were protected against weather elements.

The most significant turnaround was in 1939 when Dr. Frank from Columbia University led a conference to discuss the best national standards for school buses in the US. The participants came up with 44 ways to improve school bus safety. While the standards included the construction materials and emergency exits, the yellow color was the most notable.

Importance of School Buses Safety

School buses are responsible for ferrying millions of children to school every day. Parents trust them to pick up and drop off their children and expect nothing less than 100% safety for their little ones.

These yellow vehicles carry future presidents, innovators, sportspeople, tech wizards, and the whole humankind generation. The drivers ought to be careful, and the yellow color helps other drivers see the buses on the highway. Apart from ensuring external safety, yellow buses also safeguard students internally. All students have to be seated and not overcrowded.

Anyone living in the US knows that school buses are yellow. But many other countries across the world have adopted these standards. Though the yellow may range from pure yellow to shades of orange, they are all closely related, making it easy to identify school buses.