General Question

daniel89x's avatar

Why do school buses have a strobe light on the roof?

Asked by daniel89x (280points) January 8th, 2008

In my community schools buses tend to have a small bright strobe light on their roof. I was just interested to learn the reason.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

12 Answers

glial's avatar

To increase their visibility.

jarodbo's avatar

Ya, just in case that giant yellow vehicle is blending into the grey road and green and blue backdrop…

dream08's avatar

So, you can see them better at night…

Cardinal's avatar

glial is right and they can only be used when there are students on the bus,

LanceVance's avatar

dream08, why would a school bus drive at night?

glial's avatar

@LanceVance – Ballgames, traveling to other schools.

This ain’t rocket science people.

Response moderated
chaosrob's avatar

In some communities, they have a system where you can transmit light pulses in a particular pattern to make the traffic signals switch from red to green. I see these a lot on police, fire, ambulance, but I could see the value of having them on a school bus, as well. Perhaps it’s one of those?

Trance24's avatar

@jarodbo we don’t create stereo types here. They are not appreciated.

dream08's avatar

The bus has to pick up kids early in the moring, so people have to see it at night.. Early in the morning is at night… You now like 4am

scott1296's avatar

lancevance school buses sometimes drive early in the morning too..when i used to get picked up in the morning by my school bus its was almost 6:30 in the morning and it was as dark as night there is another reason

GFREE's avatar


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.

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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