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Transportation

The Higher-Tech Future of School Bus Stop Signs

Researchers are trying to figure out how to make drivers take those alerts more seriously.
A low(er)-tech "Bus Stop Ahead" sign.
A low(er)-tech "Bus Stop Ahead" sign.Pamela Au/Shutterstock.com

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are few safer ways to get to school than aboard a bright yellow school bus. The lumbering mother hens of the road are subject to a large batch of safety rules, which keep them heavy, tall, and equipped with emergency exits. School bus seats are extra padded, and purposefully designed into neat compartments to protect kiddos as an egg carton would eggs. Their roofs are reinforced with steel, in case of a rollover. And this stuff works: according to 2013 DOT data, just four school-age kids are killed aboard buses each year, compared to the 490 killed heading to and from school in other passenger vehicles.

The biggest risks in riding school buses come not while onboard, but while getting on and off. Of the 119 school-age pedestrians who died in school-vehicle-related crashes between 2003 and 2012, 65 percent were struck by the bus, but 30 percent were struck by another vehicle. And signs don’t always help. In a study of one of its districts, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) found that 20 percent of school bus-related crashes occurred near a “School Bus Stop Ahead” sign.