Back To School And Bus Drivers: Let’s Raise The Standards

back-to-schoolAs our kids return to school this Fall, I’m a bit worried. There are of course plenty of issues to be concerned about, but certainly the safety standards on our kids’ transportation methods is top of the list. For instance, it’s sad that our school bus drivers transport such precious cargo, yet their vehicles are often faulty and they sometimes don’t have as much experience as a driver who hauls produce.

School bus accidents in several states, which severely injure children, show up in the news and cause us to pause; but perhaps not enough pause. It’s about time we take a deeper look at our school transportation. We need to start fighting for safer buses and better trained drivers.

Multiple Injuries and Fatalities Call for Action to Improve Standards

As a parent, I call us all to ban together for our children. One piece of legislature we ought to start working on is a requirement for truck companies to install forward-looking avoidance technology on their vehicles. And this is just a start in keeping the roads safe for our kids.

In a real tragedy in Tennessee, a third-party bus company and the school district that hired the company appeared to be negligent. According to reports from students and parents, the bus driver bullied his young passengers by driving aggressively. He swerved and drove fast, so they would fall off their seats and bump their heads.

In another recent incident in Baltimore, a school bus collided with an MTA bus, leaving both drivers and four MTA passengers killed, and 10 people injured. The Baltimore Sun reported that the school bus driver veered into oncoming traffic, ripping directly through the side of the MTA bus. Investigators are speculating the driver may have had a medical condition that caused him to lose consciousness.  These are just two examples of school bus-related tragedies that made the news. There are many others that occur every year.

Currently, School Bus Drivers Only Need Minimal Training

School bus drivers must hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) that has a school bus endorsement. One can have less than 10 hours of training to receive this special license. It’s unfortunate and horrifying to know that school bus drivers are also exempt from having to follow these Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations:

  • Driver qualification (including medical and physical qualification)
  • Vehicle repair and maintenance regulations
  • Hours of service rules
  • Vehicle operation standards
  • Bus inspection requirements
  • Registration and insurance rules

Crashes like those in Tennessee and Baltimore, and many others, are increasing with alarming frequency, and they’re often completely avoidable. It’s time we prioritize our children’s safety and work as a community to raise the standards for our school buses and drivers.


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