Alabama School Bus Lettering

Alabama School Bus Lettering

Jun 8, 2023

Decals, Stickers, and Reflective Striping Specifications

The state of Alabama has precise regulations regarding the size, placement, color, and materials of lettering, decals, stickers, and reflective striping used on school buses. This is to ensure uniformity, visibility, and safety. This article describes Alabama School Bus Lettering, decals, stickers, and reflective striping meant to aid in the identification of the bus and communicate important safety information.

FMVSS 217 – ALL emergency exits shall comply with FMVSS 217.

Emergency Exit Designations

On Alabama school buses, the words “EMERGENCY DOOR” and “EMERGENCY EXIT” must be prominently displayed in letters at least two inches high. The “EMERGENCY DOOR” label should be positioned at the top of or directly above the emergency door, or on the door in the metal panel above the top glass, both inside and outside of the bus. The “EMERGENCY EXIT” label should be placed on the exterior body directly above each emergency window.

School bus emergency exits are further distinguished by a minimum one inch wide strip of red, white, or yellow retro-reflective tape placed around the outside perimeter of the emergency exit opening.


Alabama school buses bear the words “SCHOOL BUS” in eight-inch black letters on a National School Bus Yellow (NSBY) background, located on the front and back of the bus. Additionally, the name of the school system should be present on each side of the bus in at least 5-inch, black, or NSBY standard, unshaded letters. Each bus must be numbered on both sides, the front left side, and the rear before being put into service.

Any other lettering, numbering, or symbols displayed on the exterior of the bus must not exceed 64 square inches of total display and should be near the entrance door. These can provide additional information for students to identify the bus or route served.

Approved Signs and Lettering

Only signs and lettering approved by state law or regulation may appear on the bus. These are limited to the name of the owner or operator and any marking necessary for identification.

Warning Sticker

Alabama school buses display a high quality 6” x 9” warning sticker on permanent, adhesive, vinyl, bumper-sticker material. This sticker is mounted just under the first or second rub rail at the left side of the passenger entrance door and warns against trespassing with potential legal consequences. A “NO TRESPASSING” decal is also placed in the entrance doorstep well in a highly visible location.

Additional Decals

Additional decals include a battery disconnect decal placed on the outside of the bus to identify the location, and a decal (or lettering of at least 1” in height) identifying the fuel type, placed on or adjacent to the fuel door.

Retro Reflective NSBY Material

If SCHOOL BUS signs are not of a lighted design, they must be marked with retro reflective NSBY material comprising a background for the lettering of the front and/or rear SCHOOL BUS signs. The sides of the bus body must also be marked with retro reflective NSBY material at least one inch in width, extending the length of the bus body and located between the floor line and the belt line.

The rear of the bus body is marked with strips of retro reflective NSBY material to outline the perimeter of the back of the bus. Strips of at least one-inch retro reflective NSBY material are applied horizontally above the rear windows and above the rear bumper, extending from the rear emergency exit perimeter marking outward to the left and rear corners of the bus.

Lastly, the body exterior trim, bumper, lamp hoods, and lettering on Alabama school buses are black. These regulations ensure the uniformity, visibility, and safety of school transportation in the state of Alabama.


The safety and visibility of school buses are paramount to ensure the well-being of students during their daily commute. One of the ways to enhance visibility and recognition is through standardized lettering, decals, stickers, and reflective striping on school buses. These markings serve multiple purposes, such as identifying the bus as a school vehicle, indicating emergency exits, and providing important safety warnings. While these standards can vary from state to state, this article delves into the specific guidelines for school buses in Alabama. The specifications discussed here are sourced from the following:

Alabama Department of Education’s official document on school bus specifications
Alabama Minimum Specifications for School Buses 2022

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Congress on School Transportation
National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures