Here is an answer to a question that you probably didn't know you were looking for. Perhaps you are like me and have seen hundreds of school buses around the Sioux Empire and perhaps at one time, you have ridden on one. Maybe you have noticed the black stripes that run down the sides of these buses but never gave it a second thought.

I've always assumed these stripes were just rub-strips, there to protect the broad side of the bus if it gets too close to an object. Or maybe they act as guard rails, offering some additional structural protection in the event of a collision. Because they are black, maybe they help break up the otherwise all yellow slab of metal. Turns out all those are valid reasons, however, these black stripes serve a more important visual function.

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A YouTube video from Clawboss, who is a school bus driver, tells us each of the three stripes acts as a very specific visual aid to first responders. The bottom stripe is where the floor line of the bus is, the middle stripe is where the bottom of the seats are, and the top stripe lines up with the top of the seats.

In other words, the stripes quickly tell emergency workers where the rider's feet, rear-end, and shoulders are. If the bus is involved in an accident, safety workers can quickly see what area of the passenger compartment has been impacted by the collision. If the damage is mostly under the floor line, it would be considered less serious than if the middle or top rails were impacted.

Different states have different requirements on the color of the stripes. Some states allow the stripes to be the same as the body color, while others require the stripes to contrast from the body.

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