Skip Navigational Links

Choosing the Correct School Bus
For Transporting Pre-School Age Children
Proceed to previous page  Proceed to next page

NHTSA Guidelines and State Laws

In 1999, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the Guideline for the Safe Transportation of Pre-school Age Children in School Buses. The Guideline recommends each pre-school age child transported in a school bus always be transported in a properly secured Child Safety Restraint System (CSRS).*

State law may require school bus equipment not specified in NHTSA regulations. Each state regulates how school buses are to be used and which agencies are responsible for developing and enforcing school bus regulations. In some states, requirements for transporting public school children differ from requirements for transporting children attending private schools and non-school organizations (e.g. Head Start programs, child care agencies, etc).

Because each state has its own requirements, it is important to be knowledgeable about the laws of the state(s) in which your vehicle will be registered and used, to avoid ordering a school bus that cannot be registered or used because it does not meet state requirements. As an example, in some states the “crash avoidance” or traffic control features of a school bus (flashing lights, deployment of stop arm) cannot be used if the school bus is not being used to take school children to or from school.

It is strongly recommended that you purchase your vehicle from a school bus distributor who is knowledgeable about school bus regulations in your state.

For further information about state school bus regulations, contact your State Director of Pupil Transportation. A list of State Directors can be obtained at or by calling 1-800-585-0340. If you are a member of a child care association, the association may be a source of information about pre-school transportation requirements in your state.