Were School Bus Stops Safer Then?

September 22, 2021

YouTube is rife with news pieces about cars that do not stop when school buses are picking up or dropping off kids.  Despite the flashing amber and red lights, the red stop signs that swing out on the side of the bus, the signs themselves with flashing red lights, it seems that accidents involving vehicles passing stopped school buses are climbing. Just last week, a UPS delivery truck almost took out three kids.

The drivers simply ignore the stop signs and go cruising on past; sometimes on the door side of the bus.  Just do a search for "passing school bus" on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=passing+school+bus) and prepare to be amazed.

Over the years, school buses have been built to be safer, with additional safety items such as bars that swing out to keep kids from crossing directly in front of the bus, but there are still a lot of accidents.   I wonder if these accidents are increasing, or if I'm just seeing more of them come up in my YouTube feed because I've watched a few.

Return with me, if you will, to the 1960's and 70's - years in which I was a student riding school buses.  Buses had no amber preparatory warning lights, no flashing stop sign to swing out from the side of the bus.  Back then, when kids had to cross the street at a school bus stop, the driver would turn on the flashing red lights, set the parking brake and shut off the engine, then get out of the bus and walk to the center of the other lane of the road (sometimes holding a stop sign paddle). 

Only when the driver was sure the coast was safe would the children be directed to cross the road in front of the bus.  Once the kids were safely either getting in the bus or having completely crossed the road would the driver return to the driver's seat, close the door, start the engine, turn off the red lights, release the parking brake and proceed to the next stop.

Mr. Sims and Bus 31


When did that change?  Wasn't that a safer method of charging and discharging passengers?  Or, if that practice were done today, would leaving a bus with children in it invite some kid to jump into the driver's seat and mess with things, perhaps releasing the parking brake and putting the transmission in neutral, possibly causing the bus to roll?   Kids seem to be more daring now than back then when we were all little compliant angels, am I right?  Perhaps they could hire a flagger to ride on the bus and get out to ensure traffic has stopped?

I don't know the answer.  I'm just posing the question.

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