School Bus Safety - Unloading Practices

imported_John Whelan - March 24, 2014

School Bus Safety – The 8 Light Warning System

I can guarantee that every school district in North America has trouble with traffic passing a stopped school bus when the red lights are flashing. These red lights are the 8 light warning system that starts off with amber lights before the bus comes to a full stop. With the master switch on a switch in the entrance door activates the red loading lights when the door is opened.

The door is only opened when the bus has come to a full stop. New International school buses are wired so you have to be fully stopped before the red loading lights will work. Older buses you could activate these lights anytime but now the design has changed and the bus can not be moving at all. This could have been effected by the D250 school bus safety standards.

D250 School Bus Safety Standards

Any changes made to a school bus must comply with the D250 standards which are published by representatives from the school bus and transport industry from all over the continent. This technical committee address safety issues that occur and keep up with new technology. The standards are published every five years (on average) with changes agreed upon by the committee.

The committee consists of representatives from the department of transport, school districts, equipment manufacturers and school bus manufacturers. It's a well rounded committee so the right decisions are being made on changes to the yellow school bus. For example: Several years ago heated mirrors were voted on and became a standard for all school buses.

These standards are adopted by the industry and intended for the new construction of school buses. The specifications for Body / Chassis requirements and Safety Equipment are set in stone and are required on all school buses. The purpose of this is all about safety for the students who ride the buses. As you saw in the video commuters are easily distracted and they do not see the students crossing the street until it's too late.

The Loading Light Dilemma

In the video you saw what happened and running the school bus loading lights has been going on since the beginning of school bus transportation. People are either distracted looking at their cell phone for instance or don't know the traffic rules. On a 2 way street all traffic has to stop until the loading lights are turned off.

Changes Made To The School Bus Eight Light Warning System

There have been several changes to school bus lighting including LED lighting which is much more brilliant than incandescent lighting. There is are 2 stop signs available on the driver side instead of the standard one just behind the driver window. This is an option along with an LED warning sign on the back end of the pusher buses.

The 2 stop sign addition and rear warning sign options was implemented by the manufacturer and is not in the D250 standards. So sometimes the bus builder does make improvements to make their bus safer and more visible to commuters. This could be a selling point since safety is a huge factor with school districts.

Stop Sign Cameras

Stop sign cameras are available for end users to take a photo of the licence plate of a passing vehicle when it runs passed a stopped bus with the red warning light system on. This information is accepted by law enforcement and the vehicle owner will be charged. In today's world I can see the extra load on people who work everyday and have lots to do and multi-task while driving. I don't think that's a good excuse to do extra things while driving.

Knowing the rules and abiding by them is the first step. The possible consequences of running a school bus unloading young kids could instantly change the lives of many people. The bright LED warning lights flashing on each corner of a school bus and on the stop sign highly visible on the street side was installed there for a reason.

Thank you for reading this information and I hope it makes you think about the importance of a yellow school bus stopped on the side of the road with lights flashing. Have you got a comment? Please fill out the box below I would love to read your story or feedback.