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Reminders of school bus safety

By Staff | Sep 4, 2009

Warm colors are a real favorite of mine. I guess that is why I am so smitten by all the rich tones of autumn. As our air is getting that slight nip of fall and we start to notice the scatter of leaves on the lawn, let us take a moment and notice the yellow-orange ribbons on our streets and highways. These long dashes of golden color are the many school buses we see transporting our most precious cargoour children.

We cannot say that school buses are truly yellow, can we? They are a beautiful blend of yellow and orange. In the early thirties, school buses were often painted lemon yellow, thus the term “yellow school bus.” I often think of Dixon Ticonderoga yellow pencils and the yellow highway stripes as very close cousins to school bus yellow. Several years ago I witnessed a true fashion-stopping statement dealing with this color. It took place while I was doing school pictures at Ely Elementary. For those of you who know me, I can get swept up in the spirited camaraderie of this significant school day. I often take note of the many fashions that promenade before my camera lens.

Mrs. Joyce Froehlich had brought her class in for pictures, and naturally, we started with her first. She stood before me like she had stepped off Fifth Avenue in New York City. The tailoring hallmarks of her pant suit greeted me: notched lapels, beautiful buttons, and a color like highway pavement – a bit black, yet the brown of the rock chips was shining through. She had selected to accessorize this smart ensemble with high pumps in the shade of school bus yellow! Her attractive feet stepped with style, and this bit of sizzle delighted my eyes. I knew if she were to stroll down Fifth Avenue looking like this, the fashion patrol would be following that ray of sunshine her high heels were making, asking, “Who is your personal shopper? Please tell us!” Thanks for sharing this splash of color, Joyce. It made a lasting impression on me!

In April of 1939, Dr. Frank W. Cyr, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, organized a conference that established national school-bus construction standards, including the standard color of yellow for the school buses. School bus yellow is a color which was especially formulated for use on Canadian and United States school buses and has been used since 1939. Dr. Cyr’s conference was attended by transportation officials from the then all 48 states. (If Hartley and Harlow had been born, I’m sure they would have been invited!) Not wanting to waste time on the color, paint experts from DuPont and Pittsburgh Paints also participated. This color was selected because it was easy to see the black lettering on the buses in the early morning hours. This informative and foundation-setting conference was funded by a $5,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The color is now officially known in Canada and the U.S. as National School Bus Glossy Yellow. Dr. Cyr became known as the “Father of the Yellow School Bus.”

I am sure if he were alive today and he were to visit Rugby, we would see him standing on Highway 2 West admiring the vast canvas of yellow orange on the Hartley’s School bus lot. We are all thankful for the benefits of this conference when it comes to the safety of our school children.

As a child, I loved school buses. Since we lived in town, my school bus riding was limited. What a sensational stroke of luck when I made friends with a couple of farm kids. I so enjoyed those great bus rides down those hilly roads in the fall. Once my feet arrived at the farm, it wasn’t long before this city kid was doing outrageous things like swinging in the barn hay mow from a rope!

Now that school is in session, let us take note of the yellow school bus and refresh our memories on safety.

1. Think of school hours and when bus traffic is heavy. This is usually between the hours of 7-8:30 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. The majority of our students are traveling to and from school during these hours. If you can, avoid driving near the schools at these times.

2. Stay off your cell phone! You need to be paying attention. Keep your eyes on the lookout for the children who may dart unexpectedly into traffic while loading or unloading the bus. It is also important to beware of children waiting for the bus. Also notice the posted speed limits.

3. Notice the red lights. When a school bus stops with its red lights flashing and the large red stop sign is extended from the side of the bus, kids will be moving. Drivers are not to drive around the stopped school bus for ANY reason. Just in case any of us have forgotten – it is illegal,4. Encourage children to wear bright colors, as they can be more easily seen by drivers.

5. Remind students to always walk on the sidewalks to the bus and to never run.

6. Help younger children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so they won’t drop things along the way.

Many color experts point out that color, such as yellow or greenish yellow, are more visible to the human eye during daylight and dimmer conditions. It is now easy to see why earth moving and road building equipment are yellow. Our response when seeing this color should be caution.

With school being in full swing, let all of us use extreme caution when driving by our schools. I share with you an after school snack that is as pleasing and attractive as school bus yellow.

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