Superintendent's Memo #089-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

April 16, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: New Regulation from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry Impacting School Buses

The Virginia Department of Education has received notification of a new regulation (16VAC25-97) issued by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program. This regulation concerns the reverse signal operation for motor vehicles with an obstructed view to the rear. “Obstructed view to the rear” means anything that interferes with the overall view of the operator of the vehicle to the rear of the vehicle at ground level. This new regulation applies to the school and activity buses in your fleet, and may apply to other vehicles (e.g., maintenance or delivery vehicles) operated by your school division. The regulation went into effect on September 18, 2009, and specifies applicability, safety procedures for reverse vehicle operation, and training requirements.

Per the new regulation, no vehicle should be operated in reverse unless it has a reverse signal alarm that is audible above all surrounding sounds and a designated observer/ground guide signals it is safe to back up, or before operating the vehicle, the driver/operator visually determines that no one is behind the vehicle. Each designated observer/ground guide must be trained on the requirements of this regulation. For school buses, this regulation should apply primarily to reverse vehicle operation when student riders are not on board (i.e., in restricted parking areas, maintenance facilities, etc.), since reverse vehicle operation of buses when students are on board should be avoided as much as possible.

Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) staff indicate that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requirement for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) testing, specifically the general knowledge section, is sufficient training for bus drivers related to this regulation; however, DOLI inspectors will be thorough in determining if bus drivers have received sufficient training, which may include interviewing drivers on reverse operation requirements. It is recommended that divisions maintain documentation on the training provided in response to this regulation even though maintenance of training records is not required under the regulation. DOLI inspectors will be visiting school divisions to check for compliance with these regulations.

The specific regulation can be viewed at:

Resources related to the regulation are available at:

The general website for the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry is:

Questions should be directed to the VOSH Director, Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, at (804) 786-7776 or e-mail at