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September 15, 2011  |   Comments (4)   |   Post a comment

How to position and use bus mirrors

Officials say the most important component of this effort is complying with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 111, which sets forth field-of-vision requirements. They also provide tips on establishing the danger zone around a bus so it is visible in the mirrors, and they discuss proper mirror adjustment.

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This photo shows the right convex mirror adjusted to enable the driver to see the bus’ entrance door area. Derrill Browning of Mirror Lite Co. says having a good view of this area can help to prevent accidents involving students.
<p>This photo shows the right convex mirror adjusted to enable the driver to see the bus’ entrance door area. Derrill Browning of Mirror Lite Co. says having a good view of this area can help to prevent accidents involving students.</p>

Exterior mirror adjustment tips
When McDonald conducts field-of-vision workshops, he covers what he describes as three rules-of thumb that are designed to help directors, managers and driver trainers convey proper mirror adjustment in driver training sessions.

“These are intended to be used as a guide only and do not reflect any particular specification or requirement set forth in the FMVSS 111 regulation,” McDonald says.

His tips are:
1. Hook a tape measure to the center of the bus’ front bumper and extend it forward 6 to 12 feet. At that point, have the driver bend or kneel down to give him or her the approximate height of a small child and have him or her look up at the cross-view mirrors. If the individual cannot see the mirrors’ lenses, a driver would not be able to see a student standing in this location.

2. Adjust the flat glass lenses inward and upward until the driver has a clear view along the side of the bus and can also see the rear corner marker lamp in the uppermost inboard corner of each lens. This helps to ensure the mirrors are properly adjusted to see the required 200 feet to the rear of the mirror.

3. When adjusting the cross-view mirrors, start with the mirror heads at an approximate 45-degree angle from their respective front corners of the bus. Adjust each mirror head to enable the driver to see all cylinders in the FMVSS 111 grid with a combination of both mirrors.

“If the cross-view mirrors are turned upward to see the 8-way lamps and/or are positioned parallel to the front of the bus, they are not in compliance with FMVSS 111,” McDonald says.

Tony Pietrowski of Tiger Mirror Corp. says a bus’ interior rearviewmirror should be mounted in front of the driver. The company’s Mirror and Sun Visor Combo Unit is easy to adjust, according to Pietrowski.
<p>Tony Pietrowski of Tiger Mirror Corp. says a bus’ interior rearview<br />mirror should be mounted in front of the driver. The company’s Mirror and Sun Visor Combo Unit is easy to adjust, according to Pietrowski.</p>
Interior mirror adjustment tips
Equally important to exterior mirror positioning and adjustment is proper adjustment of a bus’ interior rearview mirror.

Pietrowski says that the mirror should be mounted in front of the driver so that all he or she has to do is glance up and he or she will be able to see a lot of the inside of the bus.

Tiger Mirror Corp. created a durable rearview mirror that a school bus driver can easily adjust, and that Pietrowski says is guaranteed for the life of the bus. The Mirror and Sun Visor Combo Unit is a rearview mirror with a sun visor attached underneath the mirror.

Pietrowski says the unit can help bus drivers avoid the problems that can accompany adjusting a rearview mirror after someone has opened the cabinet that is mounted at the front of the bus in the bulkhead area.

“For anyone to use that compartment, you physically have to move the mirror down, and pushing it back up may be difficult because it might be bolted into place. Also, when you push the mirror back up, it can become loose,” he says.

Tiger’s Mirror and Sun Visor Combo Unit features a handle on the side with a knob, and engraved into the mirror in the corner are instructions on which way to turn the knob to tighten and loosen the mirror.

Walk-around inspection
Mirrors should be checked by drivers during their daily pre-trip inspections for proper positioning because they can be easily bumped in between runs.
Like Fischer, Derrill Browning, sales engineer at Mirror Lite Co., says it is important to be aware while inspecting the mirrors of the danger zone around a school bus.

“A driver should keep in mind that a child in any area of the danger zone should be able to look up at the bus and see some mirror reflective surfaces pointed toward him or her,” he says.

To perform a walk-around inspection, Browning suggests following these steps, which are in keeping with Fischer’s insight on field-of-vision requirements and McDonald’s tips on mirror adjustment:

Step 1. Go to the back rear corners of the bus at the bumpers. Peer down the side panels of the bus toward the front. You should be able to see some portion of the cross-view mirrors extended out wider than the school bus body. Most cross-view mirrors are around 14 inches wide.

“It would be good to see at least 4 to 6 inches of mirror surface extending out beyond the 96-inch width of the bus,” Browning says.

Next, crouch down adjacent to the rear tires. Can you see the cross-view mirrors extending out?  Look for at least 30 to 40 percent of the cross-view mirror lens to be visible from your vantage point about a foot out from the rear axle. Check both sides of the bus.

Step 2. Walk out in front of the bus 12 to 14 feet directly in front of the center of the bumper. Look at both cross-view mirrors. You should be able to see some portion of the edges of the mirrors’ reflective surface pointed toward you.

Step 3. Crouch down at the entrance door step well. Can you see your reflected image in the convex mirror? Having a good view of the step well area augmented by the convex mirror can prevent the worst accidents, Browning says. The convex mirror will provide a large image of a child in this area.

While the pre-trip walk-around is important, Browning emphasizes that it is not intended to replace proper visibility and adjustment checks on an FMVSS 111 mirror grid.

He adds that oftentimes, cross-view mirrors are swung or positioned inward for compactness at the factory or during delivery.  To swing the mirror arms out for the best visibility down the sides of the bus, the brace arm clamps and the main mounting base clamps should be loosened to allow the arms to swing out.

“A typical school bus is generally 96 inches wide, so measuring from outside edge to outside edge of the cross-view mirrors, you should have at least 104 inches for efficient visibility,” Browning says.                                               

Training resources

Mirror Lite Co.’s website,, features a PDF that shows the FMVSS 111 cone placement grid for mirror adjustment. To access the PDF, click on “Resources” and then “Test Grid Template.”

McDonald says that Rosco Vision Systems produced FMVSS 111 “Field of Vision” training materials in 1996 and has provided thousands of copies free of charge to school districts nationwide. For a free DVD and FMVSS 111 grid brochure, visit

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question. what year was the first cross mirrors put on school buses?

ben pennock    |    Aug 16, 2015 01:50 PM

I drive a bus the 1&2 mirrors which is the left mirrors cause a terrible blind spot they are mounted from the top the operator can not see over around or under I have seen the same mirrors mounted from the bottom they are still a blind spot but the operator can raise the seat enough to see over those moirror`s the operator still needs to be alert and do the rock and roll My opinion is those 1 and 2 mirrors should not be mounted from the top ever.

Leland Johnson    |    Dec 27, 2013 08:15 PM

This may be an old post but the message to set up and ACTUALLY encourage the use of mirror grids happens to be very important. Especially with sub drivers constantly operating school buses they don't normally use everyday. It is quick to just pull into the grid areas, get out make a quick adjustment and head out on your routes knowing all your blind spots are properly covered by the bus mirror system. Anytime someone else drives your bus they may have the mirrors set for them. You'll never be sorry you develop the good habit of utilizing these painted bus grids. Dan - Indiana.

Dan Luttrell    |    Aug 16, 2012 11:47 AM

Nice Site sent it to my son who is a bus mechanic for a school dist...

Walt    |    Feb 08, 2012 11:03 AM

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