A Guide to School Bus Emergency Safety Features

(click image to zoom)

(click image to zoom) Correction: A bus driver has alerted me to the fact that there are actually 0 airbags on the bus.

It’s a well-known fact that teens are pretty safe people. We don’t engage in high risk behaviors, we have a fully developed brain, and we are usually asked to be consultants to many of the major airbag companies.

Ha. If only that were true. Actually, aside from skydivers and human cannonballs, teens are probably the least safe group of people, in the history of the world, ever. I could go into all of the terrible alleged things we do, but, in the interest of not writing a 1,900,000 word blog post, I won’t.

No, the real reason I’m bringing this to your attention is that if you’re already unsafe, you really need to take advantage of every external safety feature in your life. And that includes time spent on a school bus. So, in the interest of preserving the lives of my readers, I’ve broken down just how you can stay safe on the school bus.

Brace Yourself

Unfortunately, safety cartoon cards instructing you in proper brace-positions are reserved for airplanes, because the airlines can’t afford lawyers to fight off lawsuits, while—little known fact—most school bus drivers have an ivy-league law degree (the economy is still recovering).

As a teen, though, you are probably smart enough to understand that you should try and brace for a crash/flip/rollover. The real issue is figuring out how to brace yourself.

You could just push against the seat in front of you, but 9 times out of 10 the only thing holding it in place is dried gum. Plus, your head could get stuck in one of the gaping holes in the back of the seat, and then you’d suffocate on that toxic gray foam the seats are stuffed with.

Another option would be to brace yourself against the wall of the bus, but if you haven’t already noticed, the whole bus is just one large, metal can, so it won’t be too much better.

Ideally, you can find some friends to lean against, and their bodies will cushion the impact. If no one is around, though, it’s probably a good idea to just stick your head inside a large textbook and let that act as a helmet.

Emergency Exits

Yep, the fun part of any bus-safety crisis. See, most school buses have from 2-4 doors; when you load/unload the bus, the bus driver limits you to using only one just because they like to feel important (they’re lawyers, remember).

Plus, many school buses have emergency exit windows, every third window. They are rarely used, but bus companies figured out that they could save even more money by not completely attaching the windows and then calling it a safety feature.

So, in the event that the bus gets in a situation where evacuation is necessary immediately, you’ve got a lot of options. You have so many options, in fact, that there is really no reason to remain on the bus in any situation. As soon as your speed is below fifteen miles an hour, just exit, assuming you’re not on the freeway. In that case, get out of there regardless of speed; the bus is either going to hit another car going 60+ mph or a solid concrete barrier.*

*Note: I am not a bus safety expert. This is probably not what a bus safety expert would recommend, assuming bus safety experts even exist. I am an ivy-league lawyer, however, so don’t bother suing me. We are everywhere. (I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but your toaster is also a practicing personal injury lawyer that graduated from Columbia. It’s a new cost-saving measure enacted by appliance companies. If you get burned, you can just settle your claim immediately).

Bus Safety Supplies

In addition to having absolutely no solid brace position and loads of emergency exits, the school bus you ride on likely has a number of safety supply kits. You’ve got the bodily fluid clean-up kit, the first aid kit, the fire extinguisher kit, the second aid kit, the flare kit, the understudy to the first aid kit, and the bodily fluid spill-again-for-laughs kit.

Furthermore, you’ve got a fire blanket, traffic cones, a broom, and a radio. All of those, save the radio, are found in various labeled metal lunch boxes left over from the 1980s.

Now the biggest problem with these safety features is that they are strapped to the bus. Remember, in case of an emergency, you’re going to first brace yourself and then exit the bus. Nowhere in there are you supposed to risk your life for a fire blanket or safety kit. Thus, while they may give you a false sense of security, they are only useful for personal emergencies, such as those times when you left your bodily fluids at home and need some to get you through the day.

Overall, I have no idea how safe or how dangerous school buses actually are. Thankfully, due to manufacturing restrictions, most school buses can only go 5 mph and have to stop every block (regardless of whether or not kids need to de-bus) to remind the cars behind them just how much it sucks to be stuck behind a bus.

If you’re lucky, you won’t even have to take the bus because school is canceled due to snow days. Unfortunately, because of global warming, “We Need More Snow Days.”

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  1. As a bus driver, I find this post absolutely hysterical. The only change is that the drivers steering wheel (at least on older buses and I don’t even think on newer buses) has NO airbag.

    • I’m so glad you liked it, especially since you are a bus driver yourself. I’ll go back and fix that part about the airbags in the caption. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. I used to drive a school bus and my sides still hurt from laughing. Often people don’t realize there are so many ways to get out as everyone focuses on that one rear emergency door. The emergency kits in metal lunch boxes is priceless.

    • To be fair, the rear door is definitely considered the coolest exit. Regardless, I’m thrilled you found this funny, and thanks for letting me know by leaving a comment.

  3. hi i think this is funny

  4. Great read enjoyed this one a lot.

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