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why do school buses have strobe lights

In PA, the strobe lights are not required, however, some companies and districts put them on anyways in the name of safety. Not only are these lights distracting at night, but, strobe lights are also a trigger for seizures in people with that disorder. I think they provide more of a hazard than good. There was talk a few years ago that the state was going to start requiring these and so some properties (namely Laidlaw) flocked out and bought these things in masses to put on the buses. I've heard though that the state has backed off the strobe lights currently, so, it appears they all wasted their money. All of these uses for the strobe lights are interesting but senseless in my mind. If a supervisor wants to know whether or not a bus is empty, look inside of it as it drives by. Jeez. You don't need a strobe light to tell you that!

I can almost buy the philosophy behind using them in fog, but the buses that I see around here with them use them in ANY and ALL conditions which I think is ridiculous. Our company doesn't spec out these lights at all. A 2001 Blue Bird Conventional that I had on a charter the other day has a strobe light in the back, as it was a bus our company bought second hand. The strobe light was painted yellow though and the strobe inside, removed. It had a non-functioning switch on the dash next to the clip light switch (another quirk on this bus as the rest just have the clip lights wired into the headlight switch. )
According to Blue Bird Body Company, a leading manufacturer of school buses and school bus parts, ten states require their school buses to be equipped with roof mount strobe lights. An additional 14 states have transportation specifications that permit the use of these devices (see Table 1. ) In the remaining states, including Connecticut, the laws are silent on this issue.

Sargent Cumbo of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles stated that there are buses in Connecticut with roof mount strobe lights. This may be as a result of a town ordinance or simply because a school bus manufacturing company has decided to equip their buses with them. There is a demonstration project currently taking place in Southern Connecticut to assess the benefit of strobe lights. The purpose of equipping buses with roof mount strobe lights is to alert motorists that a school bus is in the vicinity. This may be especially helpful in severe weather conditions, such as rain, fog, smog, and snow, where the vision of approaching motorists is more obscured.

Additional Information Diane Wigel, Highway Safety Specialist at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is compiling a report on school bus safety across the states. One of the questions she asked each state to answer was whether the state required school buses to be equipped with strobe lights on the tops of buses. The tentative list of states that require strobe lights is: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, and Iowa. Also, in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin buses may have strobe lights, but they are not required to have them. In North Dakota, all buses manufactured after July 31, 1988 will be equipped with strobe lights. (The final report should be available in about two months and OLR will be receiving a copy. )

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