A Status Report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction on a Study of Optimal School Bus Speed Limits on Virginia highways

Report No: 89-SPR1

Published in 1988

About the report:

The study was prompted by the fact that on Virginia's rural interstate highways there is a three-tiered speed limit: 45 mph for school buses, 55 mph for other buses and trucks, and 65 mph for passenger vehicles. On the urban interstate system, school buses are restricted to 45 mph, but other traffic has a 55 mph speed limit. Further, the speed limit for school buses on roads other than interstate highways is 35 mph or the minimum speed limit, whichever is greater, or 45 mph if the school bus neither loads nor discharges passengers between the points of origin and destination. The study will examine the safety characteristics of the current multi-tiered speed limits and how these characteristics relate to the operation of school buses. A survey of other states revealed that 17 states other than Virginia had statutes creating speed limits for school buses lower than those for other vehicles. Generally, these states restricted the speeds of school buses to 55 mph. Three other states have administrative regulations that restrict school buses to 55 mph. However, 19 states have no special laws or regulations governing school bus speed limits. Data acquisition is still in progress for the remaining states. Research is continuing on this project, and a final report on the subject is scheduled to be completed in September 1989.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Jack D. Jernigan

Last updated: December 28, 2023

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