How is your attention to detail? I am certain that you notice when a coworker, for example, arrives in a new car but sometimes it's what's right in front of us, every day, that goes unnoticed.

For me it started at a traffic light and a school bus was next to me. I had a moment to think and wondered why school buses are yellow. That lead to, why are firetrucks red and eventually why are New York barns red? My curiosity was killing me.

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In 1938, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, officials made the decision to make the manufacturing of school buses uniform. For safety and cost sake, each bus would be the same size, shape and color. The color chosen is now known as National School Bus Glossy Yellow, or Color 13432 in the Federal Standard 595a color collection.

There is no mistaking that school bus yellow and you immediately know there could be several school children on board. The color gives you immediate cause for caution.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Firetrucks needed a color that stood out from your ordinary vehicle, something that would immediately let you know, this is an emergency vehicle. BME Firetrucks indicates that all of the early 1900's Model-T Ford's were black, so choosing red set the trucks apart. Today some departments utilize lime yellow, white and even blue.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Choosing yellow and red for the safety of school buses and firetrucks makes sense but why are New York barns red? For this I went to the experts at This Old House. The reason is cost and care.

Farmers used linseed oil and rust to protect their barn wood from decay and red paint was tinted with rust. The rust, red and being relatively inexpensive, farmers painted their barns red and that tradition continues today.

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