Print Print
  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XIV PUBLIC WAYS AND WORKS
  • CHAPTER 90 MOTOR VEHICLES AND AIRCRAFT
  • Section 7B Equipment and operation of school buses

Section 7B. No person shall operate any school bus, and the owner or custodian of a school bus shall not permit the same to be operated upon or to remain upon any way, unless the following requirements are complied with:—(1) The words “SCHOOL BUS” shall be painted or otherwise displayed on the front and rear of each such vehicle in black letters of eight inches in height and conform to series “B” of the standard alphabets for highway signs on a National School Bus Yellow background, or shall be so painted upon signs attached to the front and rear of each vehicle. School buses being operated on a public highway and transporting primarily passengers other than school pupils shall have the words “SCHOOL BUS” covered, removed, or otherwise concealed, and stop arms and equipment required by clauses (7) and (11) shall not be activated during the transportation of such passengers; (2) The operator of a school bus shall not allow the number of school pupils riding in the bus at any one time to exceed the number of adequate thirteen inch seats therein nor shall the operator drive said bus until each pupil is seated; provided however, that any such bus, in which adequate straps, handles or other supports are available for standing passengers, may carry not more than three standees in any case of an emergency for a period not to exceed five consecutive school days; (3) All doors shall be kept closed while the bus is in motion; (4) Each school bus shall be operated by a person eighteen years of age or over who is licensed under section eight A or who is licensed under section nine of chapter one hundred and fifty-nine A and is subject to an annual physical examination in conformity with such minimum physical qualifications as shall be determined by the registrar in collaboration with the commissioner of the department of telecommunications and energy; provided, however, that in case of any emergency such school bus may, for a period not to exceed three consecutive school days, be operated by any person, eighteen years of age or over, who is duly licensed by his state of residence for operation of the class of vehicle being operated and has said license in his possession; and provided, further, that no person shall operate a school bus whose license to do so is suspended or revoked, or whose application to operate a school bus has been rejected by the registrar; (5) No fueling shall take place while any school bus is occupied by passengers; (6) Beginning with the chassis model year nineteen hundred and seventy-five and subsequent model years, each school bus body and fenders, shall be painted a color matching what is commonly known as “National School Bus Glossy Yellow” in accordance with United States motor vehicle D.O.T. Safety standard No. 17, as amended, and bumpers, lettering, wheels and trim shall be painted a glossy black, in accordance with such standard. The hood of vehicles manufactured for model year nineteen hundred and seventy-five and subsequent model years shall be painted lusterless black or lusterless yellow, in accordance with federal standards. This clause shall not apply to a motor vehicle operated under a certificate issued under section seven of chapter one hundred and fifty-nine A and a permit issued under section eight of said chapter which is designed primarily for other than pupil transportation; (7) Each school bus shall be equipped with Type I Class A turn signal lamps, which shall have a four-way hazard warning signal switch to cause simultaneous flashing of the turn signal lamps which may be activated when a bus is approaching a stop to load or discharge school pupils and when needed as a vehicular traffic hazard warning. Each school bus shall also be equipped with front and rear alternating flashing school bus red signal lamps, which shall remain flashing when school pupils are entering or leaving the bus. School buses manufactured with a chassis of nineteen hundred and eighty-four model year and thereafter shall be equipped with the eight-lamp system, so-called, which, in addition to the aforementioned lamps, shall include alternating flashing amber signal lamps of the same size as, and placed adjacent to, said red signal lamps, and which shall be activated when said bus is approaching a stop to load or discharge school pupils. On buses equipped with the eight-lamp system, so-called, the use of the four-way hazard warning lamps for the purpose of warning motorists of the vehicle’s impending stop to load or discharge school pupils shall be discontinued. Use of alternating flashing school bus red signal lamps for any other purpose, and at any time other than when the school bus is stopped to load or discharge school pupils, shall be prohibited. All aforementioned lamps shall comply with applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and any applicable rules and regulations promulgated by the registrar. The operator of a school bus shall cause its headlamps to be illuminated while such bus is in operation. Any person who operates such a bus shall not permit the boarding or discharging of school pupils therefrom unless the school bus is stopped as close as is practicable to the right-hand side or edge of the ways and shall announce when discharging passengers therefrom that all persons who wish to cross to the other side of the way shall do so by passing in front of the bus immediately upon alighting therefrom. No person shall operate a school bus on a way after discharging passengers therefrom unless all persons who wish to cross to the other side have done so; (8) Every school bus shall be equipped with a safety belt for the operator thereof, and said operator shall securely fasten said seat belt while transporting school pupils; (9) Every school bus shall be equipped with two operable front windshield wipers; (10) No person shall smoke or consume alcoholic beverages on a school bus while such bus is being used to transport school pupils; (11) Type I and Type II school buses purchased, leased or contracted after January first, nineteen hundred and eighty-nine for use in the commonwealth shall be equipped with an octagonal stop warning device incorporating alternately flashing red lights approved by the registrar and mounted in accordance with the registrar’s regulations upon the left side and shall only be activated to extend outward when picking up or discharging school pupils. All other Type I and Type II school buses shall be so equipped with said device no later than January first, nineteen hundred and ninety-four. Such device, when fully extended, shall not protrude more than twenty-two inches outward from the left side of the body. The use of such device shall not be construed as increasing the width of such bus beyond the limits prescribed by section nineteen. The registrar shall promulgate rules and regulations providing for a certification process for the installation of said device; (12) Every school bus shall be equipped with at least one interior mirror and at least two flat-surfaced rectangular exterior mirrors approved by the registrar in accordance with regulations issued by the registrar. Further, every school bus shall be equipped with a system of mirrors that give the driver a view of the roadway to each side of the bus and of the area immediately in front of the front bumper in accordance with rules and regulations issued by the registrar. All such mirrors shall meet all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards; (13) Every school bus shall be equipped with a first-aid kit; (14) Any school bus meeting the identification requirements of this section that is permanently converted for use wholly for purposes other than transporting pupils to and from school shall be painted a contrasting color other than National School Bus Glossy Yellow, and shall have the equipment required by clauses (1), (7), and (11) removed; (15) All pupils transported in a school bus shall receive classroom instruction in safe riding practices at least three times during the following periods of each school year: the first week of the school year, the period between the months of September and January and the period between the month of January and the end of the school year. During each school year all such pupils shall participate at least twice in on-bus emergency evacuation drills; (16) School bus drivers shall be required to perform daily pretrip inspections of their buses and to report promptly in writing to their employer any defects or deficiencies discovered that may affect the safety of the vehicle’s operation or result in its mechanical breakdown. Pretrip inspection and condition reports for school buses shall be performed in accordance with regulations established by the registrar and the commissioner of telecommunications and energy; (17) School bus drivers shall perform daily post-trip inspections of the interior of their buses including behind and underneath each seat. Any school bus driver who fails to perform such inspection shall be punished by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $100; (18) Every school bus operated on any way shall be chassis model year 1977 or any subsequent model year.

The provisions of clauses (4) and (6) shall not apply to any vehicle having permanent seating accommodations for not more than fifteen passengers and used for the transportation of children enrolled in a camp, except that the driver of such a vehicle shall be a person eighteen years of age or over and of good moral character who is duly licensed by the registrar and has in his possession a Class 1 or Class 2 Massachusetts motor vehicle operator’s license, and has not had a license to operate a school bus suspended or revoked nor had an application therefor denied.

No school bus having seating accommodations for more than sixteen school pupils equipped with passenger restraint systems shall be operated on the ways of the commonwealth unless said passenger restraint systems meet the requirement of one passenger restraint system for each seated passenger; and the minimum requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for buckles, belts, and seats. Only anchorages and seats installed as original equipment at time of manufacture of the school bus, or retrofitted by the original manufacturer of said school bus shall be used. No school bus manufactured before nineteen hundred and seventy-seven equipped with passenger restraint systems shall be operated on the ways of the commonwealth.

In addition to the requirements of the preceding paragraph, every school bus having seating accommodations for more than sixteen school pupils manufactured or retrofitted with passenger restraint systems after July first, nineteen hundred and eighty-six shall have sets of belts at each seat which are distinctively color coded; and each such belt shall consist of one nonadjustable buckle end no longer than twelve inches and one adjustable end no longer than twenty-nine inches; and each seating position adjacent to an aisle shall have the nonadjustable buckle end mounted on the aisle side; and each passenger restraint system shall comply with the minimum requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for anchorages.

No person shall operate a moving school bus while using a mobile telephone except in the case of an emergency. For the purpose of this paragraph, an emergency shall mean that the operator of the school bus needs to communicate with another to report any of the following: (a) that the school bus is disabled; (b) that medical attention or assistance is required for a passenger on the bus; (c) that police intervention is necessary for the personal safety of a passenger or to otherwise ensure the safety of the passengers; and (d) the presence of a disabled vehicle or an accident in the roadway.