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Legal Resources | Code of Regulations, Title 13 |  T13  1256.5  

Chapter 6.5. Motor Carrier Safety * Article 8. General Equipment Requirements School Bus Color and Signs.   

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(a) Each school bus shall be identified as follows:

(1) Body and Trim Colors. Whenever in this section the color yellow is specified, it shall mean National School Bus Yellow unless otherwise stated. Exteriors (except bumpers, grilles, lamp bodies, and other accessories) shall be yellow. The following items may be black:

(A) Moldings and rub rails.

(B) Seals, scratch guards, and other components manufactured from rubber or similar flexible synthetic materials.

(C) A border no more than 4 inches wide around stop lamps, turn signal lamps, or flashing red/amber lamps. The border around turn signal lamps may incorporate an arrow indicating direction of turn.

(D) The wheels may be a color different from the body color, and the upper half of the engine hood may be black. The roof of a school bus may be painted white, but the words SCHOOL BUS shall have a yellow background.

(2) Identifying Signs and Numbers. Each school bus shall be identified with the exterior signs and numbers shown in subsection (b). Signs may be either adhesive decals or painted, and shall be maintained in legible condition. Letters and numerals of all signs required by subsection (b) shall be solid black on a yellow background unless otherwise specifically permitted or required, and width shall be proportionate to height. On school buses manufactured on or after January 1, 1992, required signs applied to curved or slanted surfaces shall have a projected height and width that comply with the size requirements of this section.

(3) Trim, logos, accessories, and other minor appearance items installed as standard factory equipment may have bright metal finishes such as chrome plating or stainless steel.

(b) Required School Bus Signs

(1) School Bus. The words "SCHOOL BUS" or the word "SCHOOLBUS" shall be displayed as required in Vehicle Code Section 27906(a), in upper case lettering, and shall be located above the windshield and above the rear windows of the bus.

(2) Stop When Red Lights Flash. The words "Stop When Red Lights Flash" shall be displayed as required in Vehicle Code Section 27906(c).

(3) Carrier Name. The name of the motor carrier operating the school bus shall be displayed below the windows on both sides of the bus in letters not less than 4 inches nor more than 6 inches in height. As an alternative, a sign showing the name of the school in letters 4 to 6 inches in height and the name of the district or contractor 2 to 6 inches in height is permitted. Carrier names or lettering styles which constitute a registered trademark may include a registered trademark symbol displayed in close proximity to the carrier name. Addresses, telephone numbers, stripes, slogans, or graphic designs other than the lettering style of the carrier name shall not be considered part of the carrier name and are prohibited. Extremely ornate lettering styles which substantially reduce the legibility of the required sign from a distance of 50 feet shall not be used.

(4) Bus Number. The bus number assigned by the company or school shall be displayed in characters at least 4 inches in height in one of the following manners:

(A) On all four corners of the bus body.

(B) On both front corners and centered on the rear of the bus body.

(C) On buses manufactured on and after January 1, 1992, on both sides and both ends of the bus. Each number display shall be at least 6 inches from any other sign or manufacturer's logo. The front and rear numbers shall be displayed below the bottom edge of the passengers' side window glass, and may be displayed on the bumpers of the bus only if the background behind the number is yellow and extends at least one inch above, below, and to each side of the number. After January 1, 1992, any school bus, regardless of age, may be marked to comply with this subsection instead of subsection (A) or (B) above.

(D) Buses 30 feet in length or longer may display the bus number twice on each side, one display as close as possible to each end of the bus.

(E) No school bus shall display a bus number in more locations than authorized by this section. Except for older school buses permitted to be marked as described in subsections (A) and (B), no school bus shall display a number on a corner of the vehicle to serve as both a side and end number.

(5) Carrier Number. The carrier identification number assigned by the department shall be displayed in characters two inches in height on both sides of the bus, centered not less than two inches nor more than 24 inches below the carrier name. The display shall consist of the letters CA followed by the digits assigned to the carrier. A space may be inserted between the letters CA and the digits.

(A) School buses may display the carrier's valid operating authority or identification number assigned by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, or the United States Department of Transportation, in the manner specified above for carrier identification numbers, instead of the carrier identification number assigned by the department.

(B) Carrier identification numbers assigned by the department or identification numbers assigned by the Public Utilities Commission and displayed on school buses prior to September 1, 1989, may continue to be displayed irrespective of the size and location requirements of subsection (b)(5) of this section.

(6) Emergency Exit. A sign reading "EMERGENCY EXIT" in upper case letters 2 inches in height shall be on the exterior of the bus on or above each emergency exit. Exterior emergency exit signs may have a white background if located above the emergency exit in the white area of school buses with white roofs. A sign reading "EMERGENCY EXIT" in upper case letters at least 2 inches in height shall be on the interior of the bus on or above each emergency exit. Interior emergency exit signs shall be of any color that contrasts sharply with the background. Interior emergency exit signs may be backlighted if no glaring light is projected into the driver's eyes either directly or by reflection from any surface forward or to either side of the driver.

(A) For exterior or interior emergency exit signs, the words "EMERGENCY DOOR" in upper case letters may be used to identify floor-level emergency doors instead of the words "EMERGENCY EXIT".

(B) Roof emergency exits shall be identified as described in subsection (b)(6) for other emergency exits, except that emergency exit signs for roof exits need not meet the size and color requirements of that subsection if they are clearly identified as emergency exits on the interior and exterior of the emergency exit assembly as supplied by its manufacturer.

(C) School buses manufactured prior to January 1, 1992 may have emergency exit signs applied as decals on the window glass of the emergency exit. If this option is exercised, the emergency exit decals shall meet the size and wording requirements of this subsection, but need not meet the color requirements.

(7) Stop Signal Arm. School buses manufactured on or after September 1, 1992, shall be equipped with at least one stop signal arm. School buses manufactured prior to September 1, 1992, may be equipped with stop signal arms. Stop signal arms shall meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Standard No. 131 (49 CFR 571.131) and the following:

(A) Size. The stop signal arm shall be a regular octagon which is at least 17.72 inches x 17.72 inches and not more than 18.25 inches x 18.25 inches in diameter.

(B) Color. The stop signal arm shall be red on both sides except as provided in subsection (C). The Stop Signal Arm shall have a white border of 0.47 inches on both sides. The word "STOP" shall be displayed on both sides, in white upper-case letters. The letters shall be a minimum of 5.9 inches in height, and a maximum of 8.0 inches in height, with a minimum stroke width of 0.79 inches and a maximum stroke width of 1.0 inches.

(C) Location. The stop signal arm shall be installed on the left side of the bus, as close as practical to the rear of the bus. The stop signal arm may not be located on a door or emergency exit door, or in any location where it can be contacted by a door or an emergency exit door when the stop signal arm is deployed or retracted. A second stop signal arm may be installed on the left side of the school bus, as close as practical to the front of the bus. When two stop signal arms are installed on a school bus, the rearmost stop signal arm shall not contain any lettering, symbols, or markings on the forward side, and the forward side shall not be reflectorized. Each stop signal arm shall be located such that, when in the extended position:

1. The arm is perpendicular to the side of the bus, plus or minus five degrees;

2. The top edge of the stop signal arm is parallel to and not more than 6 inches from a horizontal plane tangent to the lower edge of the frame of the passenger window immediately behind the driver's window; and

3. The vertical center line of the stop sign is at least 9 inches away from the side of the school bus.

(D) Warning Lamps. Each side of the arm shall be equipped with two alternately flashing red lamps meeting the requirements of SAE J1133, April 1984. The lamps shall be centered on the vertical centerline of the stop signal arm. One of the lamps shall be located at the extreme top of the stop arm and the other at its extreme bottom.

(E) Strobe Lamps. In lieu of warning lamps, each side of the arm may be equipped with two alternately flashing red strobe lamps meeting the requirements of SAE J1133, April 1984. If strobe lamps are used in lieu of required warning lamps, the existing lamps shall be removed, and the strobe lamp shall be installed in compliance with subparagraph (D) of this section.

(F) Reflectorization. Except as provided in subsection (C), if reflectorization is used the entire surface of both sides of the stop signal arm shall be reflectorized with type III retroreflectorized material that meets the minimum specific intensity requirements of FMVSS 131, S6.1.

(G) In lieu of incandescent or strobe warning lamps otherwise required by this section, each side of the stop signal arm may be equipped with flashing light emitting diodes (LEDs) that spell out the word STOP, meeting the requirements of FMVSS 131 (49 CFR 571.131). If LEDs are used in lieu of required warning or strobe lamps, the existing lamp-type stop signal arm(s) shall be removed, and the LED stop signal arm(s) shall be installed in compliance with subparagraph (C) of this section.

(H) Operation. The stop signal arm shall be operated by electricity, air or vacuum. Manual operation of the stop signal arm is prohibited. The stop signal arm shall be automatically extended whenever the alternately flashing red signal lamp switch is activated as required by Vehicle Code Section 22112. The stop arm shall not be activated or deployed at any other time.

(c) Optional school bus markings. The following signs, when displayed as specified, are permitted on school buses:

(1) An additional bus number may be placed on the roof for aerial identification. If used, this number shall be black on a white or yellow background. No size requirement shall apply to this number.

(2) Handicapped Sign. A white-on-blue international handicapped (wheelchair) sign may be displayed on any school bus equipped to transport pupils confined to wheelchairs. One sign may be displayed on each side and on the rear of the bus. Each sign shall be no larger than 12 inches in height and the width shall be proportional to the height. The sign shall not obscure any required sign on the bus.

(3) Additional Signs. Signs consisting of numbers, letters or illustrations with contents limited to special identification, bus routing information, warning against unauthorized entry, or an acknowledgment of a sponsor's donation of a school bus may be displayed. No color restrictions apply to this sign. The display area shall be a maximum of 12 inches by 12 inches on the sides of a school bus below the bottom edge of the passengers' side window glass and not closer than 12 inches from any required sign.

(4) Route Identification. A changeable sign designating the current route assignment of a school bus may be displayed on the right side of the bus above the entrance door or through the windshield as described in Vehicle Code Section 26708(b)(5). The sign, when installed above the entrance door, shall not exceed 6 inches in height and 16 inches in length, and shall not obstruct any required light. The face of the sign may be any color, and the body or housing of the sign shall be black or yellow. Such signs shall not emit any light. Any electrically changed signs shall be installed with all control cables protected by grommets where they pass through body panels, and shall be provided with a separate fuse or circuit breaker which does not supply power to any other device. Body or roof panels shall not be cut to recess such signs into the body or roof unless written concurrence is first obtained from the body manufacturer, stating that the proposed modification will not adversely affect the compliance of the bus with any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard applicable at the time the bus was manufactured.

(d) On school buses operated for demonstration purposes and which are not certified by the department for pupil transportation pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 2807(b), the name of the manufacturer, dealer or owner may be displayed in any manner that clearly indicates the entity responsible for the operation of the bus.

(e) On a school bus leased, rented or lent to a school district, private school or contractor, for periods of not more than 30 days in any one school year, temporary signs bearing the carrier name and identification number of the school or contractor may be displayed on both sides of the bus near the name of the bailor in lieu of the permanent signs otherwise required by this section. Such temporary signs need not meet the color requirements set forth in subsection (a) of this section, but shall be displayed in characters of not less than 2 inches in height and in sharp contrast with the background. The temporary signs shall be removed immediately upon return of the bus to the bailor.

(f) Limitations on school bus markings. Colors, signs, bumper stickers, numbers or reflectorizing material not required or specifically permitted by this article shall not be permitted on school buses. A school bus operated for demonstration purposes which is not certified pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 2807(b) is not subject to the limitations of this subsection. However, prior to certification by the department for the transportation of school pupils, all signs, colors, and other graphic devices not required or permitted by this section shall be removed, and all required signs shall be applied.

(1) The rear bumper of a school bus may be marked with diagonal reflectorized material in accordance with Vehicle Code Section 25500. The rear of a school bus body may be marked with a strip of retroreflective yellow material no greater than 2 inches in width. The strip must be placed from the left lower corner of the required School Bus lettering, across to the left side of the bus, then vertically down to the top of the bumper, across the bus on a line immediately above the bumper to the right side, then vertically up to a point even with the strip placement on the left side, and concluding with a horizontal strip terminating at the right lower corner of the "School Bus" lettering. The upper horizontal strip of retroreflective material may be continued below the "School Bus" lettering to connect with the strip on the left side if the body design permits. Retroreflective tape may have interruptions to avoid and/or accommodate functional components such as rivets, rubrails, curved surfaces, hinges and handles, provided the tape is immediately adjacent to the these components.

(2) Emergency exits on school buses manufactured on or after May 2, 1994, shall meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Standard No. 217, S5.5.3 (49 CFR 571.217 S5.5.3) in effect at the time of manufacture. School buses manufactured prior to May 2, 1994, may be marked in accordance with FMVSS 217. Emergency exit markings in compliance with FMVSS 217 S5.5.3 shall have precedence over any other retroreflective marking permitted by this section.

(3) One reflectorized yellow horizontal stripe of any length and not exceeding 12 inches in width may be on each side of a school bus. The carrier's name may be superimposed over the stripe, but if so, shall not be reflectorized as otherwise permitted in subsection (4) below.

(4) The characters of any required sign may be formed from or painted with black material, which may reflect white light. Optional signs and their backgrounds shall not be reflectorized, except that the optional roof aerial identification number permitted in subsection (c)(1) may reflect white light. The background of the roof number shall not be reflectorized.

(5) Interior signs. Posting of safe driving and riding instructions in the driver's compartment is permitted if it does not restrict the driver's view of traffic or the instrument panel.

(6) Vehicle Information Labels. Small exterior tags or labels with lettering of not more than one inch in height indicating operational information such as, but not limited to, type of fuel, tire pressure, air reservoir drain locations, coolant filler location, etc. are not considered signs for the purposes of this section. Markings on fuel containers and fuel filler locations for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), and liquefied natural gas (LNG) shall comply with the marking requirements for those containers as specified in this title and Vehicle Code Section 27909 regardless of the requirements of this subsection. Vehicle markings required by National Fire Protection Association Standard 52 for CNG-powered vehicles are permitted as specified in NFPA 52-1988 published by that organization.

(7) Logos. Logos of the manufacturer(s) of a school bus are not considered signs for the purposes of this section; however, logos shall not be displayed within 6 inches of any required sign. Exterior signs of any size representing the dealer or distributor of the bus are not permitted unless the dealer or distributor is either the manufacturer of the bus or, in the case of school buses manufactured in two or more stages, the final stage manufacturer. Signs on step well risers that are visible through door glass are not considered to be on the exterior of the bus.

Authority cited:

Vehicle Code 34501.5

Vehicle Code 34508

Reference:

Vehicle Code 34501.5

Vehicle Code 34508

Education Code 39831

Education Code 39842

(Amended by Register 99, No. 12.)