Why School Buses Are Yellow

#History

Tue, Feb 26th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

If you've ever wondered why school buses are yellow and not, "magma orange, like a Lamborghini," The New York Times' James Barron explains the history behind their colour.

Dr. Cyr, who died at 95 in 1995, had traveled the country, surveying pupil transportation in an era when school buses cost $2,000 apiece but differed widely from manufacturer to manufacturer and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some states had safety standards; some left the task to local school districts. “In many cases, standards have been set up by more or less hit-and-miss methods,” according to an account that Dr. Cyr oversaw.

Then, in the spring of 1939, he called together educators, school bus manufacturers and paint experts for a conference that approved the nation’s first school bus safety standards — 42 pages covering everything from axles, batteries and emergency brakes to the inside height of the passenger compartment to, yes, the color that the world saw outside. The standards were published in a booklet with a yellow cover: the yellow was the color the group had chosen.

“They wanted a color that would stand out, that other drivers could see from a distance and that would be identified with a school bus so whenever we saw it, we’d think, there’s a group of kids going someplace,” said Frank Cyr’s son, William. “Before that, they sent kids to school in anything.”

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