School bus standards

All school buses operated in Ohio must meet federal standards and Ohio's state construction standards. The state standards are managed by the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) on behalf of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. School buses must comply with the standards that are in effect as of the date of manufacture. Since standards are updated periodically, schools should keep outdated copies of standards as reference for older buses. The most recent set of standards were adopted on January 1, 2019, and apply to any school bus built and sold in Ohio on or after that date.  

Download the 2019 construction standards

Older versions of Ohio's standards are provided here for use with older buses:

Download the 2014 construction standards

Download the 2008 Construction standards

Download the 2003 Construction Standards

Download the 1998 Construction Standards

Optional school bus equipment
In addition to the equipment required in the construction standards, owners may purchase optional equipment, providing that it has been approved by the Ohio Department of Public Safety through the OSHP Office of Licensing and Commercial Standards. That office maintains and publishes a list of approved optional equipment currently approved for use on Ohio school buses. Schools or vendors wishing to seek approval for a new option must contact the OSHP for approval prior to installation. Instructions for equipment tests are included in the construction standards, available above.

Current approved options list, published August 2018. Download the August 2018 school bus options list.

The previous approved options list, published March 2018.  Download the March 2018 school bus options list.

The previous approved options list, published April 2017. Download the April 2017 school bus options list.

The previous approved options list, published December 2014 . Download the 2014 school bus options list

Ohio State Highway Patrol School Bus Inspection Manual
The document below is the reference manual used by OSHP motor vehicle inspection teams when evaluating school buses. The final authority for school bus construction is the law that is adopted in the applicable construction standards. If the inspection manual and construction standards are in conflict, the construction standards are the definitive document.

2019 Ohio State Highway Patrol School Bus Inspection Manual

2016 Ohio State Highway Patrol School Bus Inspection Manual

2015 Ohio State Highway Patrol School Bus Inspection Manual

2015 Supplement to Inspection Manual

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

All school buses sold in the US are required to meet a stringent set of federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) in force at the time of manufacture.  These standards are regularly reviewed and updated by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, in conjunction with industry representatives from both manufacturing and the school transportation providers.

The total documentation involved in the FMVSS standards is lengthy.  Provided here is a condensed mini-guide to the standards to provide the reader with an overview of the depth and range of coverage.

Mini-guide to the school bus FMVSS standards