School buses in Michigan come equipped with lots of safety features.

We're all familiar with the flashing yellow and red lights, the big cross-view mirrors, and the long stop arms.

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They're even painted bright yellow to make sure we can see them.

But did you know there's even a reason for the three black stripes you'll find on the sides of most school buses?

The Reason for the Top Black Stripe on the Side of a School Bus

Photos via Canva
Photos via Canva

First of all, these black stripes are actually called "rub rails". They are integral to the structural integrity of the bus, and the National Congress of School Transportation has adopted specific guidelines for their placement, size and strength.

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The rub rails - or black stripes - happen to be located at places emergency services could use to get their bearings in the event of an accident involving the bus.

That black stripe at the top? That happens to be no more than 10 inches away from the tops of the seats inside.

The Reason for the Middle Black Stripe of the Side of a School Bus

Photos via Canva
Photos via Canva

The middle rub rail is required to be placed "at, or no more than eight inches above, the seat cushion level," and must go all the way around the bus - except over the back emergency door. Emergency services can use this middle stripe as a guide to approximate where the seat cushions are inside the bus.

The Reason for the Bottom Black Stripe on the Side of a School Bus

Photos via Canva
Photos via Canva

Think you've got this pattern figured out?

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The bottom rub rail is required to be placed ten inches or less above the floor line. Emergency crews can use this black stripe to approximate where the floor is located inside the bus.

The Bottom Line

The rub rails - or black stripes - on the sides of school buses can be used to approximate the locations of certain features inside. However, not all emergency crews rely upon them in the event of an accident.

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