Why do buses stop at train tracks?

Every day I get stuck behind the same set of school buses, and I end up losing so much time since each and every one has to stop before it crosses the train tracks. Why do they do that?

Sarah Gray · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
While it may be annoying to get stuck behind a school bus stopping at train tracks, there is an excellent reason for it. Simply put, buses stop at train tracks to save lives.
To be clear, buses have always been required to stop at train tracks. That said, additional measures were added after a particularly grizzly accident on the morning of December 1, 1938 that resulted in the deaths of the bus driver and 25 students on board. When approaching train tracks, bus drivers must:
  • come to a complete stop
  • eliminate all extraneous noise, like fans, radios, and student conversation
  • open the door
  • open their side window
  • look and listen for oncoming trains
  • proceed only if they can ensure a safe crossing
It might seem boring or even irritating to wait for a bus to cross the tracks, but it’s much better than what we know can happen if they don’t follow these procedures.
Train tracks are frequently the site of terrible accidents. To help prevent them, the Department of Health and Human Services has put together a number of precautions for drivers. Head over to their website to check out their guidelines, and, while you’re at it, hop over to
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