FMVSS 131 & FMVSS 217 – School Bus Reflective Tape Specifications (NOTE – pdf’s of both federal regulations are at the bottom of this page)
School Bus Reflective Tape Regulations:
Almost every state has laws governing how school buses must be marked. These rules’ primary objective is to prominently mark the bus’ emergency exits with reflective tape. In this manner, emergency personnel can quickly locate the exits in the event of a bus accident.
Although each state has its own laws, the general guidelines are as follows.
Retroreflective tape with a minimum width of 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in a red, white, or yellow color that, when tested under the conditions detailed in S6.1 of Standard No. 131 (49 CFR 571.131), meets the requirements, is required to be used to outline each required emergency exit. (Note – yellow is normally used)
- Side emergency escape windows are identified by a 1′′ strip.
- Back emergency escape windows are marked with a 1′′ strip.
These are the minimum tape width specifications.
An excerpt from the Connecticut regulations can be seen below. You can see how it differs slightly from national guidelines.
Any school bus may have retroreflective sheeting, often known as reflectorized tape, placed to the sides and rear if the tape conforms with and is installed in compliance with the guidelines below:
1. Approved reflective tape or sheeting shall reflect a yellow color with a reflectivity
meeting the requirements of 49 CFR 571.131 Table 1 and shall have a daytime
color of National School Bus Yellow. Approved reflective tape shall be no less
than three quarters (3/4) inch nor more than two (2) inches in width.
2. The rear of the bus body may have the perimeter outlined with strips of approved
reflective tape. The perimeter shall be considered as strips applied horizontally above
the rear windows and above the rear bumper, extending from the rear emergency
exit perimeter marking (if present), outward to the left and right rear corners of the
bus; and vertical strips applied at the corners connecting the horizontal strips.
3. All emergency exits should be marked and outlined with reflective tape as
prescribed per FMVSS 217.
4. The sides of the bus body may be marked with approved reflective tape
extending horizontally the length of the bus body and located vertically between the floor-line and the belt-line.
(Adopted effective May 2, 2007)
For school bus marking requirements in your state, check with your local DOT or state agency.
Minimum Reflectivity Standards for the tape used on buses is as follows. This is from the FMVSS document.
The PDF files below are the two federal regulations governing school bus marking. Note that each is several pages and you can navigate the pages using arrows at the bottom left of each document.fmvss-131
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.