California - Transportation Safety—safety equipment: Program Requirement

Area: 
Program Requirement
Policy Type: 
statute; regulation
Summary: 

State law addresses bus safety equipment by authorizing the use of either stop-arm cameras or the installation of school bus seat belts.

California Vehicle Code 27316 Safety Belts and Inflatable Restraint Systems

(a) Unless specifically prohibited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all schoolbuses purchased or leased for use in California shall be equipped at all designated seating positions with a combination pelvic and upper torso passenger restraint system, if the schoolbus is either of the following:

  • (1) Type 1, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 1201 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, and is manufactured on or after July 1, 2005.
  • (2) Type 2, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 1201 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, and is manufactured on or after July 1, 2004.

(b) For purposes of this section, a “passenger restraint system” means any of the following:

  • (1) A restraint system that is in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 209, for a type 2 seatbelt assembly, and with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 210, as those standards were in effect on the date the schoolbus was manufactured.
  • (2) A restraint system certified by the schoolbus manufacturer that is in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 222 and incorporates a type 2 lap/shoulder restraint system.

(c) No person, school district, or organization, with respect to a schoolbus equipped with passenger restraint systems pursuant to this section, may be charged for a violation of this code or any regulation adopted thereunder requiring a passenger to use a passenger restraint system, if a passenger on the schoolbus fails to use or improperly uses the passenger restraint system.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature, in implementing this section, that school pupil transportation providers work to prioritize the allocation of schoolbuses purchased, leased, or contracted for on or after July 1, 2004, for type 2 schoolbuses, or on or after July 1, 2005, for type 1 schoolbuses, to ensure that elementary level schoolbus passengers receive first priority for new schoolbuses whenever feasible.


California Code of Regulations 5 CCR 14105. School Bus and School Pupil Activity Bus (SPAB) Passenger Restraint System Use.

All passengers in a school bus or in a school pupil activity bus that is equipped with passenger restraint systems in accordance with sections 27316 and 27316.5 of the Vehicle Code, shall use the passenger restraint system. All pupils described in subdivision (a) of Education Code Section 39831.5, shall be instructed in an age-appropriate manner in the use of passenger restraint systems required by Education Code Section 39831.5(a)(3). The instruction shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(a) Proper fastening and release of the passenger restraint system:

  • (1) Fastening: To fasten, insert the latch plate (the metal "tongue" attached to one side of the webbing) into the proper buckle (the receptacle that comes out from the "bight" in the back of the seat, a slot in the seat cushion, or from the side). The latch plate inserts into the buckle until you hear an audible snap sound and feel it latch. Make sure the latch plate is securely fastened in the buckle.
  • (2) Unfastening: To unfasten, push the buckle release button and remove the latch plate from the buckle. The buckle has a release mechanism that, when manually operated during "unbuckling," breaks the bond and separates the two sections.

(b) Acceptable placement of passenger restraint systems on pupils: Adjust the lap belt to fit low and tight across the hips/pelvis, not the stomach area. Place the shoulder belt snug across the chest, away from the neck. Never place the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm. Position the shoulder belt height adjuster so that the belt rests across the middle of the shoulder. Failure to adjust the shoulder belt properly would reduce the effectiveness of the lap/shoulder belt system and increase the risk of injury in a collision.

(c) Times at which the passenger restraint system should be fastened and released: Passenger restraint systems shall be used at all times the school bus or school pupil activity bus is in motion except when exempted in subdivisions (e) and (f) of this section.

(d) Acceptable placement of the passenger restraint systems when not in use: When not in use, passenger restraint systems shall be fully retracted into the retractors so that no loose webbing is visible, or stored in a safe manner per the school bus manufacturer's instructions.

(e) This section does not apply to a passenger with a physically disabling condition or medical condition which would prevent appropriate restraint in a passenger restraint system, providing that the condition is duly certified by a licensed physician or licensed chiropractor who shall state in writing the nature of the condition, as well as the reason the restraint is inappropriate.

(f) This section also does not apply in case of any emergency that may necessitate the loading of school children on a school bus in excess of the limits of its seating capacity. As used in this section, "emergency" means a natural disaster or hazard (as determined by the school district superintendent or their designee) that requires pupils to be moved immediately in order to ensure their safety.
Source: Thomas Reuters Westlaw State Government Sites

Policy Links: