FMVSS 131 & 217 School Bus Reflective Tape Requirements – Online Reflective Tape Store
FMVSS stands for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. It is a comprehensive set of standards with parts of it dealing with school buses. FMVSS 571.131 and 571.217 are subsections of federal regulations dealing with standards for school bus safety as they relate to emergency exit visibility and stop arms.
FMVSS 571.131 deals with the Safety Stop Arms and the retro reflective tape that is required for these, and FMVSS 571.217 covers reflective tape for emergency exits. An excerpt is below.
Each opening for a required emergency exit shall be outlined around its outside perimeter with a retroreflective tape with a minimum width of 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in either red, white, or yellow in color, that when tested under the conditions specified in S6.1 of Standard No. 131 (49 CFR 571.131), meets the criteria specified in Table 1 of that section.
S5.3 Conspicuity. The stop signal arm shall comply with either S5.3.1 or S5.3.2, or both.
S5.3.1 Except as provided in S184.108.40.206, S220.127.116.11, or S18.104.22.168, the entire surface of both sides of each stop signal arm shall be reflectorized with Type III retroreflectorized material that meets the minimum specific intensity requirements of S6.1 and Table I.
S.22.214.171.124 The legend of the retroreflective stop arm may be illuminated in a manner such that light is emitted from the surface of each letter or from the area immediately surrounding each letter. Only red lamps may be used. They shall form the complete shape of each letter of the legend, and shall be affixed to all letters (or to the areas immediately surrounding all letters) in the legend. The shape of each letter shall remain constant and, if the lamps are contained within each letter, the net stroke width (stroke width minus the width of the lamp(s)) of each letter of the legend, specified in S5.2.2, shall not be less than 15 mm (0.59 inch). When the stop arm is extended, the lamps shall flash at the rate specified in S6.2.2, with a current “on” time specified in S126.96.36.199. All lamps shall be positioned in one of the two following ways:
(1) centered within the stroke of each letter of the legend, or
(2) outlining each letter of the legend.
S188.8.131.52 Nonreflectorized mounting brackets, clips, bolts, or other components necessary to the mechanical or electrical operation of the stop signal arm shall not obscure more than 7.5 percent of the total surface area of either side of the stop signal arm.
S184.108.40.206 When two stop signal arms are installed on a school bus, the forward side of the rearmost stop signal arm shall not be reflectorized.
S6.1 Reflectivity Test. When tested under the conditions specified in S6.2 (b), (c), and (d) of Federal motor vehicle safety standard 125, Warning Devices, (49 CFR 571.125), the retroreflective materials shall meet the criteria specified in table 1.
Table 1—Minimum Specific Intensity Per Unit Area (SIA)
(Candelas per Footcandle Per Square Foot)
|Observation Angle (°)||Entrance Angle (°)||White||Red|
|Type III Retroreflective Element Material|
|A—Glass Bead Retroreflective Element Material|
|B—Prismatic Retroreflective Element Material|
Private buses are not as regulated as school buses. However, the same type of markings are recommended especially if the bus transports children.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.