Why are School Buses Yellow in Color?


Most of us remember our school journeys, boarding the yellow school buses. How often had you thought of why the buses were specifically colored that way? What was the significance or historical reasoning behind that yellow color? If you ever wondered to yourself, “why are school buses yellow in color,” then the information shared in this post will certainly quench your thirst for knowledge.

Historical Overview

In the United States of America, there was no standardization in terms of school bus color until 1939. Every school was transporting its kids in different automobiles of various sizes, shapes, and colors.

Why Are School Buses Yellow In Color?

It was when a reputed professor of Columbia University, Dr. Frank Cyr, conducted a decade long study of safety standards in a nationwide school transportation system that these facts came to light. Soon after that, a considerable conclave of educationists met at Columbia, and yellow became the official color of all school buses.

Rather than being pure yellow, this is a mix of bright orange and soft yellow, named as National School Bus Chrome in 1939, and today is known as National School Bus Glossy Yellow. Apart from the color, this huge meeting was also instrumental in establishing the standard dimensions of every bus, making school transportation safer.

It also meant that the school bus construction companies had a standard template that made the process cheaper. In this way, the standard yellow colored bus proved to be a multi-utility decision for all schools in the USA.

Stand-Out Performance

Now that you know the story behind the decision to paint all school buses yellow, you must be wondering what made Dr. Frank and all the other highly educated luminaries choose this particular color.

The answer is simple – yellow stands out in a sea of colors. As we all know, out of all the primary colors, Red is considered the most attention-grabbing hue.

However, when the color selection for school buses was going on, Red was already the go-to color that signified danger as it shone brightly at every traffic signal worldwide.

It would not be wise to choose the same color for school buses and denote them as dangerous automobiles.

Why Are School Buses Yellow In Color

Moreover, scientists have unanimously concluded that yellow tends to stand out the most in any situation. This fact is especially important when we consider the standard timings when school buses pick up or drop kids.

It is either early morning and late afternoon or early evening, respectively. It is quite common to encounter thick fog or other environmental elements during these timings, and yellow is visible even in the midst of the thick fog, smoke, rain, dust, or dirt clouds.

Most importantly, the lettering of the school name in black color shines brightest on the glossy yellow hue. This stand-out ability has made yellow the color of choice for the school transportation system.

Why Are School Buses Yellow In Color

The scientific reason behind this is the ability of ‘school bus glossy yellow’ hue to work on Red as well as Green cones of our eyes at the same time.

No matter how congested the traffic situation, our brain instinctively places a yellow-colored automobile apart from the others and gives a signal to speeding drivers to slow down, making yellow the safest choice for school buses.

Peripheral Winner

For those still wondering why school buses are yellow, here is another interesting fact. We possess peripheral vision, i.e., the ability to discern things and people who are not in our direct line of sight.

A scientific study has proven that yellow has the highest peripheral vision quality, surpassing even the red color that is officially considered the biggest attention-hoarder. It is 1.24 times easier and faster for us to discern a yellow-colored object in our peripheral vision than any other color.

Anybody can spot a yellow school bus from afar even when it is not directly in our sightline. This factor, combined with the connotation of yellow used for school kids, has made the school bus glossy yellow color a beacon of safety.

Loved By Children

While this factor did not have any say in choosing the yellow color for all school buses, it is also common knowledge that yellow is a bright and optimistic color. It denotes cheerfulness, sunshine, smiles, and kids love these attributes in their surroundings.

There is a reason we love decorating our kids’ rooms with bright yellow wallpapers or sunflowers. The natural happiness denoted by yellow gels well with the cheery disposition of kids in general.

Also Read: Ten Reasons Why School Bus Drivers Quit?

Little kids are very impressionable and deserve to be surrounded by things, colors, people that motivate them to be better and make them feel pleasant.

Why Are School Buses Yellow In Color?

If the essential happiness were missing from one’s life, one is bound to feel depressed, and we do not want our kids to go through life’s brutal battles at such a young age. Thus, using yellow as the official color for all school buses ensures that kids get a healthy dose of cheerfulness early in the morning, a high note to start the day.

Official Guidelines

The simple answer to the mystery behind the usage of yellow in school buses would boil down to – it is a legal mandate in the USA and Canada. Moreover, this mandate has found it’s equal in various other countries that also employ the use of yellow-colored automobiles to ferry their school kids to and fro school.

This color choice is a package item that includes many other conditions, such as a prominent display of the words ‘School Bus’, the presence of an attendant at all times, availability of a first aid kit, and so on, to ensure the safety of the kids.

There you have it –some of the reasons why are school buses yellow in color in many countries around the world. Can you think of any other reason to add to this happy list?

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