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  #1  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:08 PM
TVGuy TVGuy is offline
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White strobe lights on school busses - Reason?

I just got back from a vacation trip to Florida. While there, I observed something I've seen only in (I think) Nevada before.

All of the county school busses had white painted roofs and a single white strobe light mounted at the rear center of the roof.

No place I've ever lived has had this system, so I have no idea for the reason for doing this - other than the seemingly obvious reason of enhance visibility and better conspicuity (like a 45 foot yellow school bus isn't conspicuous enough?)

Does anyone know the reasons and rationale behind the strobe lights and white roofs? Is it just to draw attention to the bus? Is it so police plans can track a stolen or hijacked bus? Was there just a really good strobe light and white paint salesman travelling through the southern states recently?
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  #2  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:25 PM
Spacegirl Spacegirl is offline
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Just checking in, we have those in Minnesota too, and I always wondered the same thing. Anybody?....Bueller?
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  #3  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:28 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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We don't have the white roofs, but we've got the strobes. I'll opine that the strobes are simply a visibility aid.
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  #4  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:33 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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This is a bit of a WAG on my part, but here goes:

Back in the mid-80's there was a trucker's strike that got pretty nasty, with sniper attacks against scab drivers. A bus was shot in a case of mistaken identity (early morning, winter time, with the bus running with the interior lights out) and immediately after that, all the buses in the area began running with their interior lights on, so that no one would shoot them, thinking that they were a scab trucker. The light on the top, is probably there so that at night, people won't mistake the bus for a semi, and will be more cautious around it.

The buses here in TN have the strobe light on them as well. I think that it's been mandated by law that all the newer buses have them.
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  #5  
Old 12-12-2002, 11:47 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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And I've noticed construction vehicles sporting them as well.
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  #6  
Old 12-13-2002, 12:00 AM
Guy Montag Guy Montag is offline
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I recently spent about a year in Jacksonville, FL and they have them there too. my guess would be visibility, considering the pea-soup fog they get almost daily.
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  #7  
Old 12-13-2002, 01:26 AM
Wikkit Wikkit is offline
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The strobe at our school was only turned on during precipitation or fog.

The white roof makes the bus cooler in the summer.

I'd go as the guys at Bluebird, but the plant closed down a few months ago...
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  #8  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:01 AM
GFREE GFREE is offline
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Dangers of strobes

Regarding the DANGERS OF STROBES:

Folks, these strobes are far more dangerous than they are good. As a pilot, one must turn off strobes in fog, rain, snow due to vertigo.
This is the same on the ground as it is in the air. Why would you wish to "blind" drivers following a bus, particularly over a long distance. These strobes SHOULD BE OUTLAWED and NOT USED.

Wikipedia:
Flicker vertigo is "an imbalance in brain-cell activity caused by exposure to low-frequency flickering (or flashing) of a relatively bright light"
[1] The strobe light effect causes persons who are vulnerable to flicker vertigo to become disoriented, lose control of the aircraft (Vehicle).
Due to the intensity of the brilliant white light source, the intended use for strobes is during daylight hours of operation.

Strobes should really not be used in inclement weather, in the clouds or on the ground as this can cause flicker vertigo. BUT THIS IS WHEN MOST BUS DRIVERS USE THE STROBES ! THE WORST TIME TO HAVE THEM ON!!!!

Aviation FAR 91.209—You must use position and anti-collision lights between sunset and sunrise, but this regulation says you can turn off the anti-collision lights for safety, such as when flying in precipitation.

Distractions and problems can result from a flickering light in the cockpit, anticollision light, strobe lights, or other aircraft lights and can cause flicker vertigo. If continuous, the possible physical reactions can be nausea, dizziness, grogginess, unconsciousness, headaches, or confusion. The pilot should try to eliminate any light source causing blinking or flickering problems in the cockpit.

Flicker vertigo has been reported as the cause of some aviation accidents. Twenty two percent of helicopter pilots and 30 percent of airplane pilots said flight through fog with a rotating beacon had caused flickering light in the cockpit.

At night, anti-collision lights reflecting off the clouds can produce the effect. Flicker vertigo can develop when viewing rotating beacons, strobe lights, or reflections of these off water or the clouds.

With the above information readilly available, Did the transportation board fail to do their research prior to having these installed?
Have they ever travelled 15 minutes behind a bus with strobes in the dark, and rain? IT IS VERY BLINDING and DISTRACTING

If they don't feel a large yellow vehicle is visible enough, add reflective paint, more lighting (Like some trailer trucks)
But not a Blinding strobe light!

GFREE in New Hampshire
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  #9  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:19 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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zombie or not, school bus yellow is very visible in the daylight but not at night. in the northern states school buses, especially rural routes, travel in the dark morning and night. the visual alert of a strobe will penetrate in snowstorms. the lights are set back from the from to not have as much reflection to the driver (a small plane pilot is much closer to the light).

and above all don't drive your school bus at altitudes above the road surface.
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  #10  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:24 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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A strobe light is one that rapidly flashes on and off. Do you guys mean a floodlight?
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  #11  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:30 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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It's not for traffic light pre-emption, is it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_signal_preemption
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  #12  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:45 AM
Chessic Sense Chessic Sense is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
A strobe light is one that rapidly flashes on and off. Do you guys mean a floodlight?
No, they/we mean 'strobe'. They flash. Anywho, fog generally burns away by the office worker's morning commute, but it's present quite often at 6 a.m. in early fall and spring.
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  #13  
Old 01-31-2012, 10:28 AM
Macnbaish Macnbaish is offline
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Growing up in Indiana they were definitely useful during foggy mornings to increase visibility of the buses - in fact that was really the only time you could even tell they were turned on. The strobe is a very slow strobe.. maybe one flash every few seconds - I don't think there is much risk of adverse consequences there.
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  #14  
Old 01-31-2012, 11:15 AM
Lukeinva Lukeinva is offline
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Interestingly... a bus is a mass transportation vehicle, whereas buss means kiss. So... school busses mean school kisses. The plural is buses.
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  #15  
Old 01-31-2012, 11:16 AM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeinva View Post
Interestingly... a bus is a mass transportation vehicle, whereas buss means kiss. So... school busses mean school kisses. The plural is buses.
I've seen the plural of "bus" spelled both ways, though "buses" is far more common.
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  #16  
Old 01-31-2012, 11:25 AM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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There was a really bad school bus crash in Carrolton, Kentucky school bus crash. This may have been one of the triggers, as it was a foggy night and a (very drunk) driver didn't see the bus as he sped down I-71.

Quote:
Changes in Kentucky

Kentucky now requires all school buses to have nine emergency exits—more than any other federal or state standard. This includes front and back doors, a side door, four emergency windows and two roof exits. The bus that crashed at Carrollton had only front and back exits, and 11 rows of 39" seats, including the crucial area near the rear door.

Buses used by Kentucky schools must also have a cage around the fuel tank, a stronger frame and roof to resist crumpling on impact and rollover, high-backed seats, extra seat padding, a fuel system that slows leaks, flame-retardant seats and floors, reflective tape on all emergency exits, and strobe lights on the exterior. Schools also must have a diesel-powered fleet.

In 1991, Kentucky enacted stricter drunk driving laws.
Obviously it's visibility related.
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  #17  
Old 01-31-2012, 12:54 PM
thelabdude thelabdude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GFREE View Post
Regarding the DANGERS OF STROBES:

Folks, these strobes are far more dangerous than they are good. As a pilot, one must turn off strobes in fog, rain, snow due to vertigo.
This is the same on the ground as it is in the air. Why would you wish to "blind" drivers following a bus, particularly over a long distance. These strobes SHOULD BE OUTLAWED and NOT USED.

Wikipedia:
Flicker vertigo is "an imbalance in brain-cell activity caused by exposure to low-frequency flickering (or flashing) of a relatively bright light"
[1] The strobe light effect causes persons who are vulnerable to flicker vertigo to become disoriented, lose control of the aircraft (Vehicle).
Due to the intensity of the brilliant white light source, the intended use for strobes is during daylight hours of operation.

Strobes should really not be used in inclement weather, in the clouds or on the ground as this can cause flicker vertigo. BUT THIS IS WHEN MOST BUS DRIVERS USE THE STROBES ! THE WORST TIME TO HAVE THEM ON!!!!

Aviation FAR 91.209—You must use position and anti-collision lights between sunset and sunrise, but this regulation says you can turn off the anti-collision lights for safety, such as when flying in precipitation.

Distractions and problems can result from a flickering light in the cockpit, anticollision light, strobe lights, or other aircraft lights and can cause flicker vertigo. If continuous, the possible physical reactions can be nausea, dizziness, grogginess, unconsciousness, headaches, or confusion. The pilot should try to eliminate any light source causing blinking or flickering problems in the cockpit.

Flicker vertigo has been reported as the cause of some aviation accidents. Twenty two percent of helicopter pilots and 30 percent of airplane pilots said flight through fog with a rotating beacon had caused flickering light in the cockpit.

At night, anti-collision lights reflecting off the clouds can produce the effect. Flicker vertigo can develop when viewing rotating beacons, strobe lights, or reflections of these off water or the clouds.

With the above information readilly available, Did the transportation board fail to do their research prior to having these installed?
Have they ever travelled 15 minutes behind a bus with strobes in the dark, and rain? IT IS VERY BLINDING and DISTRACTING

If they don't feel a large yellow vehicle is visible enough, add reflective paint, more lighting (Like some trailer trucks)
But not a Blinding strobe light!

GFREE in New Hampshire
No matter how dumb an idea is, there is no stopping it if it involves the safety of school children. I don't see a need for roof top strobes, but they are relatively harmless. Now a baseball bat to the head of whoever decided to strobe the headlights while the bus is stopped picking up children. Great idea to leave the oncoming drivers blinded.

I have seen the white roofs, and assumed to control the heat. More important as school has moved into August.
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  #18  
Old 01-31-2012, 01:44 PM
Blakeyrat Blakeyrat is offline
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We have these (at least where I live) in Washington State. They're *great* for foggy roads-- in fact, after seeing how far the visibility carries in fog I started wondering why they don't equip all big vehicles with them.

Edit: crap I didn't see it was a thread from 2002. Sorry all.

Last edited by Blakeyrat; 01-31-2012 at 01:45 PM..
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  #19  
Old 01-31-2012, 01:47 PM
MikeF MikeF is offline
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Yes, the blinking light will enable you to see the otherwise invisible huge yellow vehicle at a distance.
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  #20  
Old 01-31-2012, 01:51 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I've seen these plenty of times, and it's not even remotely close to blinding.
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  #21  
Old 01-31-2012, 06:31 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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I don't know about other states, but in the Carolinas, the strobe is much faster than just once per second, and it gives you some warning that a significant traffic hazard is ahead, doing no more than 45 MPH on a 65 MPH freeway.

I'm not sure why they're even allowed on e freeway - anyone else going that far under the limit would be cited.
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  #22  
Old 01-31-2012, 06:50 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I started seeing these in Canada about 10 years ago too.

I like to tell the kids who ride them that the light is turned on for added safety when there's at least one retarded - um, mentally challenged - person riding the bus. (Or driving it)
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  #23  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:03 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeinva View Post
Interestingly... a bus is a mass transportation vehicle, whereas buss means kiss. So... school busses mean school kisses. The plural is buses.
I though the plural was 'bi'.

Also, are these flashing strobes, or the fluttering type that only change intensity instead of going fully off?

Last edited by TriPolar; 01-31-2012 at 07:04 PM..
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  #24  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:03 PM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
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Since this is a zombie thread revived recently by others, I thought I'd chime in to say this is a common practice here in Georgia. Both the white roof (for cooling purposes) and the strobe (actually a really slow strobe, more of a flashing white light) to alert people at a distance that HERE COME THE KIDS.

It is still a bit weird when I am driving out from home and see this flashing light coming from the distance.

But, it does alert me not to violently lurch over and collide with the oncoming giant machine.
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  #25  
Old 01-31-2012, 09:02 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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I'm going to have to disagree with our friend GFREE. I'll bet those lights have prevented far more accidents than they have caused. In fact, I would like to see just one example of those little blinking lights actually causing an accident. On foggy days, those lights make buses visible, particularly in rural areas like where I live.
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  #26  
Old 01-31-2012, 09:44 PM
Av8trix Av8trix is offline
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Oh what the heck. I'll jump in on the zombie too.

I went to school in Fl for my entire school career. I remember the strobes showing up on the new buses somewhere around the late 80's early 90's, maybe? I remember inquiring what the deal was with them and was told that they were now required because of some bad crash in poor visibility.
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  #27  
Old 02-01-2012, 02:46 AM
Nunzio Tavulari Nunzio Tavulari is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
I don't know about other states, but in the Carolinas, the strobe is much faster than just once per second, and it gives you some warning that a significant traffic hazard is ahead, doing no more than 45 MPH on a 65 MPH freeway.
They do move incredibly slower than the rest of traffic in North Carolina. I was told that there was a fatal school bus crash on the interstate that was attributed to speed, so they have been required to stay below 50mph since then. Interstate speed is generally 65mph, which makes them much more likely to cause a collision than if they were moving at the speed of traffic.
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  #28  
Old 02-01-2012, 04:26 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GFREE View Post
Folks, these strobes are far more dangerous than they are good. As a pilot, one must turn off strobes in fog, rain, snow due to vertigo.
This is false. The strobes may be turned off if the pilot thinks it is safer than leaving them on. There is no requirement to turn them off in low vis. You seem to base the rest of your argument on this bit of misinformation.
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  #29  
Old 02-01-2012, 06:43 AM
Orionizer Orionizer is offline
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I used to work at Thomas Built Buses and can verify the white roof is for cooling the bus in warmer environments.

When I worked there, I don't recall the strobes as an option (worked there from 1988 - 1992), though I could be wrong.
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  #30  
Old 02-01-2012, 10:29 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
I don't know about other states, but in the Carolinas, the strobe is much faster than just once per second, and it gives you some warning that a significant traffic hazard is ahead, doing no more than 45 MPH on a 65 MPH freeway.

I'm not sure why they're even allowed on e freeway - anyone else going that far under the limit would be cited.
Word. Exasperating.
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