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  • Why Yellow School Buses?

Why Are School Buses Yellow?


Yellow School Bus

"Why are school buses yellow?" is one of the most popular questions at Color Matters. But first, let’s ask,  “Are school buses really yellow?”

What color is yellow?

Lemon banana yellow?
Is yellow the color of a lemon? Is yellow the color of a banana?
Orange Mango?
Is this fruit yellow? Is this fruit yellow?

If you live in the United States, the color of most school buses is not a pure yellow (like the color of lemons). It's not the same color as an orange either. The color of a school bus is yellow-orange. This color is a mixture of lemon yellow and orange ... like the color of the fruit of a mango.

So why do we still refer to a school bus as yellow? Back in the 1930’s in the U.S., school buses were pure yellow. Thus, the term "school bus yellow" came into the English language.

Why are school buses yellow-orange (or yellow) today?

Some facts about yellow:

Yellow (and the yellow family of colors) gets your attention faster than any other color. People notice yellow objects first.

Even when you are looking straight ahead, you can see a yellow object that is not in front of you "in the corners of your eyes" much sooner than any other color even red. Scientists describe this as follows: "Lateral peripheral vision for detecting yellows is 1.24 times greater than for red."

Many experts also point out that colors such as yellow or greenish-yellow are more visible to the human eye under dimmer conditions compared to red.

Some facts about yellow cars, trucks and other moving vehicles:

Yellow in traffic

If  there’s fog or any kind of bad weather, drivers will still be able to see yellow cars and any moving vehicle fairly well.

Not only are school buses yellow, but also many earth-moving, road-building and other outdoor machines are yellow because you could get hurt if you accidentally run into one of them. Many accidents occur in farms and outdoors because the victim saw the moving object too late. If it’s yellow, you have a strong warning!

A fact about yellow school buses in the United States

One reason why school buses are yellow is because safety rules and regulations in some areas in the United States require that school buses be yellow.

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