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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards PDF Print E-mail

Altogether the U.S. Federal government has created 60 federal motor vehicle safety standards. Of these 37 apply to school buses. Of the 37, several were written specifically for the yellow school bus. Among them FMVSS 131, FMVSS 220, FMVSS 221 and FMVSS 222. Listed here are summary descriptions of the standards that apply to school buses. When you see the symbol below it indicates the FMVSS was developed specifically for school buses. Click on the FMVSS designation below to see the most recent edition of the regulation.

View a grid showing the application of each federal motor vehicle safety standard to school buses and public transit buses. Read a more thorough historical background of the development and importance of federal motor vehicle safety standards to school bus safety.


FMVSS 111: Rearview Visibility

NHTSA amended this standard that specifies requirements for the performance and location of inside and outside rearview mirrors on motor vehicles by adding a requirement for rearview backup cameras in all vehicles including school buses that weigh less than 10,000 pounds GVWR, except motorcyles and trailers. The goal is to limit the number of fatalities and injuries that occur during backover incidents, especially to small children ages 0 to 5, people with disabilities and the elderly. That final compliance deadline for vehicle manufacturers to meet the requirement is May 1, 2018, but they must provide data to NHTSA one year earlier indicating they will be compliant. The original FMVSS 111, titled "Rearview mirrors," established requirements for "cross view" mirror to see in front of and alongside the bus, and that the driver clearly see specific areas to the ground along the sides and around the front of the school bus. The purpose of this standard is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that occur when the driver of a motor vehicle does not have a clear and reasonably unobstructed view to the rear. The requirements for school buses were revised for driver visibility in front of and along both sides of school buses.[Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted on August 26, 1976. It has been ammended ten times since, the most recent previous amendment became effective on Sept. 24, 1998.]

Application: Passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, school buses, and motorcycles (exempted from rearview backup camera requirement) under 10,000 pounds GVWR.

FMVSS 126: Electronic Stability Control

This standard establishes requirement for Electronic Stablity Control Systems (ESCs) on all multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses with a gross vehicleweight rating of 4,536 Kg (10,000 pounds) or less by 2012. ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control in critical driving situations in which the vehicle is beginning to lose directional stability at the rear wheels (spin out) or directional control at the front wheels (plow out). This standard was developed as part of a comprehensive plan for reducing the serious risk of rollover crashes and the risk of death and serious injury in those crashes.

Application: Passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses with a gross vehicleweight rating of 4,536 Kg (10,000 pounds) or less.

FMVSS 131: School Bus Pedestrian Safety Devices

This standard establishes requirements for devices, namely extendable stop arms, that can be installed on school buses to improve the safety of pedestrians in the vicinity of stopped school buses. The purpose of this standard is to reduce deaths and injuries by minimizing the likelihood of vehicles passing a stopped school bus and striking pedestrians in the vicinity of the bus.

Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted May 3, 1991. It has been ammended three times since; the last ammendment became effective May 28, 1998. It now permits strobe lights on stop signal arms and LED lighting on the surface of retroreflective stop signal arms. Application: School buses

FMVSS 208: Occupant Crash Protection

This standard specifies performance requirements for the protection of vehicle occupants in crashes. The purpose of this standard is to reduce the number of deaths of vehicle occupants, and the severity of injuries, by specifying vehicle crashworthiness requirements in terms of forces and accelerations measured on a variety of anthropomorphic dummies in test crashes, and static airbag deployment tests. This standard also specifies equipment requirements for active and passive restraint systems.

Application: Passenger cars, trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a GVWR of 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) or less and an UVW of 2,495 kg (5,500 lb) or less, except for walk-in van-type trucks or vehicles designed to be sold exclusively to the U. S. Postal Service.

FMVSS 209: Seat Belt Assemblies

This revised standard, effective Oct. 21, 2005 with a manufacturer compliance date of Feb. 22, 2006, specifies requirements for seat belt assemblies. Seat belt assemblies are devices such as straps, webbing, or similar material, as well as to all necessary buckles and other fasteners and all hardware designed for installing the assembly in a motor vehicle, and to the installation, usage, and maintenance instructions for the assembly. The purpose of this standard is to ensure that the hardware of seat belt assemblies shall be designed to prevent attachment bolts and other parts from becoming disengaged from the vehicle while in service.

Application: Passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses

FMVSS 210: Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages

This standard establishes requirements for seat belt assembly anchorages to ensure their proper location for effective occupant restraint and to reduce the likelihood of their failure during a vehicle impact.

Application: Any component, other than the webbing or straps, involved in transferring seat belt loads to the vehicle structure in passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses

FMVSS 213: Child Restraint Systems

This standard specifies requirements for child restraint systems used in motor vehicles and aircraft for the purpose of reducing the number of children killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes and in aircraft.

Application: Passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks and buses, and child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles and aircraft

FMVSS 217: Bus Emergency Exits and Window Retention and Release

This standard establishes requirements for the retention of windows other than windshields in buses, and establishes operating forces, opening dimensions, and markings for bus emergency exits. The purpose o f this standard is to minimize the likelihood of occupants being thrown from the bus and to provide a means of readily accessible emergency egress.

Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted May 10, 1972. It has been ammended 15 times since; the last ammendment became effective on May 5, 1995.

Application: Buses, including school buses

FMVSS 220: School Bus Rollover Protection

This standard establishes performance requirements for school bus rollover protection. The purpose of this standard is to reduce the number of deaths and the severity of injuries that result from failure of the school bus body structure to withstand forces encountered in rollover crashes. .[Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted on January 27, 1976. It has been ammended twice since, the last ammendment became effective May 27, 1998.]

Application: School buses

FMVSS 221: School Bus Body Joint Strength

This standard establishes requirements for the strength of the body panel joints in school bus bodies. The purpose of this standard is to reduce deaths and injuries resulting from the structural collapse of school bus bodies during crashes. [Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted on August 26, 1976.]

Application: School buses with GVWR of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb)

FMVSS 222: School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection

This standard establishes occupant protection requirements for school bus passenger seating, restraining barriers, and wheelchair anchorages. The purpose of this standard is to reduce the number of deaths and the severity of injuries that result from the impact of school bus occupants against structures within the vehicle during crashes and sudden driving maneuvers.This standard provides increased protection to passengers through a series of interior changes known as "compartmentalization," or high-backed, well-padded, and well-constructed seats. This standard only applies to school buses and covers all styles of school bus. [Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted on January 28, 1976. It has been amended a dozen times since; the last ammendment became effective in April of 2009.]

Application: School buses

FMVSS 225: Child Restraint Anchorage Systems

This standard establishes requirements for child restraint anchorage systems to ensure their proper location and strength for the effective securing of child restraints. The purpose of this standard is to reduce the likelihood of the anchorage systems' failure, and to increase the likelihood that child restraints are properly secured and thus more fully achieve their potential effectiveness in motor vehicles. Webmaster note: This standard was adopted on September 1, 1999. Future vehicles are equipped with child restraint anchorage systems that are standardized and independent of the vehicle seat belts.

Application: Except for shuttle buses, this standard applies to passenger cars, trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a GVWR of 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) or less, except walk-in van-type vehicles and vehicles manufactured to be sold exclusively to the U.S. Postal Service; and to buses (including school buses) with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less

FMVSS 301: Fuel System Integrity

This standard specifies requirements for the integrity of motor vehicle fuel systems. Its purpose is to reduce deaths and injuries occurring from fires that result from fuel spillage during and after motor vehicle crashes. Webmaster note: This standard was originally adopted on October 15, 1975. It has been ammended seven times since; the last ammended became effective May 27, 1998.

Application: Passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, school buses and other buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less

FMVSS 302: Flammability of Interior Materials

This standard specifies burn resistance requirements for materials used in the occupant compartments of motor vehicles. Its purpose is to reduce the deaths and injuries to motor vehicle occupants caused by vehicle fires, especially those originating in the interior of the vehicle from sources such as matches or cigarettes.

Application: Passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks and buses.

FMVSS 304: Compressed Natural Gas Fuel System Integrity

This standard specifies requirements for the integrity of CNG motor vehicle fuel systems. The purpose of this standard is to reduce deaths and injuries occurring from fires that result from fuel leakage during and after motor vehicle crashes.

Application: This standard applies to each passenger car, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, school buses and other buses that use CNG as a motor fuel and to each container designed to store CNG as motor fuel on-board any motor vehicle.

FMVSS 403 Platform Lift Systems for Motor Vehicles
FMVSS 404 Platform Lift Installations on Motor Vehicles
This companion set of federal motor vehicle safety standards consists of an equipment standard specifying requirements for platform lifts; and a vehicle standard for all vehicles equipped with such lifts. The new equipment standard will require platform lift manufacturers to ensure that their lifts meet minimum platform dimensions and maximum size limits on platform protrusions and gaps between the platform and either the vehicle floor or the ground. The standard also requires handrails, a threshold warning signal, and retaining barriers for lifts. Performance tests are specified for wheelchair retention on the platform, lift strength, and platform slip resistance. A set of interlocks is prescribed to prevent accidental movement of a lift and the vehicle on which the lift is installed. The vehicle standard will require vehicle manufacturers who install lifts to use lifts meeting the equipment standard, to install them in accordance with the lift manufacturer's instructions, and to ensure that specific information is made available to lift users. The purpose of the two standards is to prevent injuries and fatalities during lift operation and to promote the uniformity of Federal standards and guidelines for platform lifts. Webmaster note: The effective date of this rule is December 27, 2004.

Application: This standard applies to platform lifts designed to carry passengers into and out of motor vehicles, including school buses, multipupose passenger vehicles, transit buses, motorcoaches, shuttle buses, paratransit vehicles, and private use vehicles.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 14:46