Yellow school buses have been called the “safest vehicle on the road” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for decades. In fact, students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car, according to the NHTSA. Additionally, school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road and are specifically designed to be safer than passenger vehicles when it comes to preventing crashes and injuries.
But how did it get this way? Check out the top reasons why school buses are so safe.
- Bus design safety: For one, school buses are created to “compartmentalize” crash force, which is why you’ll see those strong, closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing seat backs, yet no seat belts. Bus interiors were intentionally created this way to prevent students from getting hurt. Federal government safety standards, which have been in place since the 1960s, also ensure that school buses use mirrors, emergency exits and rollover protection to keep students safe. Front end stop arms and flashing amber and red lights also warn other drivers when to slow down and stop for students who are getting on and off the school bus.
- Bus driver training: In addition, federal and state requirements place high value on bus driver training versus what it takes to earn a driver’s license for a passenger car. School bus drivers must pass the commercial driver’s license test and earn a “school bus endorsement”; additionally, they must also take a driving test in a school bus similar to what they will be driving on the road. At the school district and school levels, drivers also learn how to take special precautions during the routes they drive each day as students board or disembark the bus.
- New efforts to increase safety: New regulations are debuting in 2020 that will boost safety even more. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, also known as MAP-21, will standardize safety and training requirements for school bus drivers. Created to reduce crashes and injuries that involve large trucks and buses, the mission of MAP-21 is to improve commercial motor vehicle safety by raising the bar for drivers. This includes new entry-level driver training with essential topics such as intersection safety, merging and pedestrian awareness, as well as preparation for special hazard scenarios such as certain bus zones and tail swings on a righthand turn. With these new updates, bus drivers will be more prepared than ever before to transport students to and from school safely.