A bus’ cross-view mirrors adjusted to meet FMVSS 111. Rosco Vision Systems’ Dave McDonald says it represents a view 12 feet out in front of the bus at the height of a small child, and that you should see the lenses at this location.
A bus' cross-view mirrors incorrectly positioned.
Ensuring that the mirrors on and in a school bus are correctly positioned is essential to safe pupil transportation, as it enables the driver to accurately see motorists, objects and students near and in the bus.
Industry officials agree that the most important component that contributes to proper school bus mirror positioning and adjustment is an understanding of and compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 111, which sets forth field-of-vision requirements.
“Mirror systems are only as effective as the person or people responsible for their proper use and adjustment,” says Dave McDonald, director of business development and technical sales for Rosco Vision Systems. “One hundred percent compliance [to FMVSS 111] is the only safe way — there are no excuses for noncompliance.”
Tony Pietrowski, design engineer at Tiger Mirror Corp., adds, “The government spent a lot of time coming up with this formula, so you shouldn’t deviate from that. Exterior mirrors need to be adjusted using the schematic/proper layout that the federal government specifies. Doing it without the guide means you’re guessing as to the proper angle of the mirrors.”
You must see the danger zone
In addition to reading FMVSS 111, pupil transportation consultant Dick Fischer, president of Trans-Consult, says that being able to see the danger zone around a school bus is essential to maintaining student safety, and it should be taken into consideration when adjusting and using school bus mirrors.
The danger zone is 12 feet around the bus, so Fischer says that the driver should be able to see at least 12 feet in front of the bus with the mirrors, and at least 12 feet on the right-hand side.
However, Fischer also notes that a driver’s height will impact this number and, therefore, the bus’ cross-view mirrors must be positioned accordingly.
For shorter drivers, for example, the vision requirement could increase to 18 to 20 feet if you are using a reference point (such as being able to see over the bus’ hood or over the steering wheel) and you measure from that point to the person’s feet.
Having the FMVSS 111 cone placement grid painted on your bus lot and using it regularly will ensure proper mirror adjustment.
Fischer and McDonald say that having the FMVSS 111 cone placement grid painted on an operation’s bus lot and using it regularly will ensure proper mirror adjustment.
“You start at the driver’s window and use the bottom of the window [as a guide] — look down and drop a cone,” Fischer says.
You should also drop a cone at 12 feet out on the right-hand side of the bus and at 6 feet out at the rear axle on the left-hand side.
Number the mirrors during training sessions
Numbering bus mirrors during training sessions to make it clear which ones the instructor is referring to can help drivers when learning how to position and use them, according to Fischer.
During Fischer’s sessions, he numbers the mirrors as follows:
• No. 1: Top left mirror with flat glass
• No. 2: Left convex mirror
• No. 3: Left cross-view mirror
• No. 4: Right cross-view mirror
• No. 5: Right convex mirror
• No. 6: Top right mirror with flat glass
• No. 7: Interior rearview mirror
In terms of field of vision, Fischer says that when looking into mirrors No. 1 and 6, you should be able to see 200 feet to the rear. In No. 2, you should be able to see the side of the bus and out 6 feet.
“With No. 3, on the back, you have to see the front tire area by 1 foot, and 6 feet at the rear axle. With the front part of that mirror, you would see 12 feet in front of the bus or more,” Fischer says. “With the No. 4 mirror, you would see 12 feet in front of the bus or more with the front part of the mirror. You would also see the right front tire at 1 foot out, and with the back of the mirror, you would see 12 feet out from the rear axle.”
Fischer and McDonald emphasize that a bus’ cross-view mirrors are designed for use during loading and unloading of students — they should never be used for driving purposes.
“If you use the mirrors for driving, you can’t see more than 3 feet in front of the bus, so you’re in violation of the federal requirements,” Fischer explains.
With mirror No. 5, he says that ideally, you should be able to see out to 12 feet, but because some of those mirrors are smaller, the driver may not be able to see all the way out to the 12-foot line.