Did School Buses Always Have the Stop Signs With the Flashing Lights?

I never thought much about the retractable stop signs with the flashing lights mounted on the left sides of school buses, but the question recently came up in a discussion with my girlfriend. She remembers a time when they started using them, meaning there had to have been a time where school buses did not have the stop signs. I assumed that they were always there. So, was this something they added to school buses some time during the 1980s, or maybe something that varied from state-to-state? If they weren’t always standard, when did they become required?

Your GF is certainly right – they were not always there.

Yeah, I think I first started seeing those flip-out stop signs in the 1980’s. They surprised me. (I also remember seeing one of those school buses with the long wire “wing” that stopped traffic in the other lane. Now that’s just absurd, I remember thinking.)

FYI, my experience covers the NYC metro area.

Here’s a good start:

Are you sure you’re girlfriend isn’t 20 years older than she claims? :wink:

I rode a school bus for many years (1966-1979), and watched them evolve.

Back in thge “old days” people seemed to “know” that you slowed down to a crawl to pass a school bus on the highway, as kids would be possibly crossing a highway.
But then tragic accidents happened enough that changes were made to the bus

First came the flashing lighting, which had to be triggered when the kid left the bus (circa 1974, if I remember correctly)

It wasn’t until I was in jr high that the “swing out stop sign” happened. (circa 1977)

I was out of school when they introduced the flashing light on the swing out stop sign…

some drivers NEVER learn, or new ones won’t… STOP WHEN YOU SEE A SCHOOL BUS STOPPED in front of you…


The long wire wing isn’t there to stop traffic in the opposing lane. It’s to force children exiting the bus and crossing in front of it to stay far enough from the vehicle to remain within sight of the driver. Little kids can easily fall into a blind spot, particularly with a conventional cab bus.

I don’t remember the flip out, flashing stop sign from my early elementary years in Ohio (up to 2nd grade), but I do rememebr them in use when I moved to Kentucky in the third grade - 1972.

She is right, they weren’t always there. The first ‘school bus’ my daddy rode in wasn’t yellow, or even a bus per se - it was a flatbed truck with the back covered over in pieces of tin. :stuck_out_tongue:

Early school busses also lacked safety features such as warning lights and emergency exits:

From here.

Hereis an article about the evolution of the “stop arm” for school busses.

An interesting timeline ishere. Public transportation for pupils was approved by all 48 contiguous states by 1919. “School bus yellow” was not adopted until 1939.