Mr. Harry C. Gough, P.E.
State of Connecticut
Department of Motor Vehicles
60 State Street
Wethersfield, CT 06161

Dear Mr. Gough:

This responds to your letter to this office asking whether the retroreflective tape required to outline school bus emergency exits can, in the case of the rear emergency door, be placed on the door itself. The short answer is no.

You stated that the State of Connecticut requires that school bus bumpers be black. You further stated that one school bus manufacturer supplied buses with the bottom piece of the retroreflective tape installed on the rear bumper. You then noticed that a number of school buses from a different manufacturer had the bottom part of the tape installed on the door itself. You asked whether the language of S5.5.3 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 217, Bus emergency exits and window retention and release, permitted the installation of the retroreflective tape on the door itself.

Paragraph S5.5.3 of FMVSS No. 217 (49 CFR 571.217) provides:

Each opening for a required emergency exit shall be outlined around its outside perimeter with a minimum 3 centimeters wide retroreflective tape, either red, white, or yellow in color, . . .

This requirement was imposed by amendment to FMVSS No. 217 promulgated by a final rule published in the Federal Register on November 2, 1992 (57 FR 49413). In discussing this requirement in the preamble portion of the final rule, we said at 57 FR 49421:

Accordingly, the final rule requires a minimum 1 inch wide strip of retroreflective tape, either red, white, or yellow in color, to be placed around the outside perimeter of the emergency exit opening, not the emergency exit itself (emphasis added).

As you may know, the buses with the tape on the emergency exit doors have been recalled by the manufacturer. For information about the recall, you can contact the bus manufacturer, Thomas Built Buses, P. O. Box 2450, High Point, NC 27261.

Enclosed for your information are two interpretative letters issued by this office on related issues pertaining to the retroreflective tape requirement. See letter to Mr. Thomas D. Turner, Manager, Engineering Services, Blue Bird Body Company, dated July 7, 1993; and letter to Mr. Turner dated March 28, 1994.

I hope the above information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Walter Myers of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.


Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel


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