Ontario School Bus Design and Construction

High-back, padded seats, close seating, size and bright yellow colour, raised floor, shatter-proof glass; reinforced sides, flashing lights and stop arm

Yellow school buses provide crash protection to their occupants that is unequalled by any other vehicle type. Studies and research on crashes, simulated crashes, and the unique safety equipment required in school buses provide more detailed information on this unparalleled level of crash protection.

School buses are funded, specified and their operations regulated by provincial governments. In many cases more than one government department is involved. Transport Canada, with its regulatory responsibility for new school bus safety standards, develops school bus regulatory policy in consultation with provincial governments and provincial government stakeholders as well as with its own stakeholders, school bus manufacturers and the Canadian public.  To learn more about Transport Canada Review of Bus Safety Issues and School Bus Passenger Protection visit the following website:


Many parents are worried about the contradiction between the need to use seat belts and child passenger seats in automobiles and the lack of these safety devices in school buses, which don't require seat belts. One reason seat belts are not required on school buses is that the greater weight and mass of a school bus means that passengers are less vulnerable in a school bus than in an automobile, and they sit above the usual point of impact. Another is that school bus passengers are not seated near doors or large window openings, so they are not likely to be thrown from the vehicle. Protection from ejection is a primary function of automobile seat belts.

But the main reason is that school buses incorporate a passive restraint system called compartmentalization, which is designed to protect children without seat belts.

The term was coined in the late 1960s by researchers at UCLA. Broadly, the term compartmentalization denotes a safety envelope or "compartment" around passengers in school buses. The idea is that if a crash occurs, the child may be thrown around within the compartment but the design of the seat compartment absorbs the crash forces and protects the child.