There are over 500,000 school bus drivers in the U.S. alone. Understandably, parents have lots of questions about their kids’ bus drivers: Can they be trusted? How were they vetted? What kind of training did they receive? The average school bus weighs over 20,000 pounds and holds up to 72 passengers. What should parents be aware of when their children’s safety is on the line?
Requirements Vary by Location
There are very few federal laws regarding the licensing and oversight of school bus drivers. Although all bus drivers are required to have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), states and localities make their own specific regulations regarding behavior and training. Every state currently requires school bus drivers to undergo drug and alcohol testing as well as a criminal background check. Some also require a physical and/or regular medical checks, but it’s ultimately up to the school district and even to individual schools to check for proof of qualifications.
Training and Education Varies
There is no minimum educational requirement to be a school bus driver. In addition to the didactic and practical training required to receive a CDL, drivers must earn both a “passenger endorsement” as well as a “school bus endorsement” under federal law. Receiving these certifications requires the completion of several written and in-person driving tests. After an accident of any kind, bus drivers are required to undergo additional post-accident training.
Drivers Can Be Stretched Thin
Between policing on-bus bullying, managing complicated routes, and dealing with last minute curveballs from weather or construction, driving a school bus can be stressful. One of the most common reasons drivers report leaving the profession is lack of support from administration regarding the day-to-day logistics of the job: scheduling, routing, student behavior, etc. Thankfully, school bus technologies like Viafy are working hard to take these issues off of bus drivers’ plates, streamlining them through digitization.
Drivers Can’t Be Babysitters
Driving a school bus requires full attention, so it’s important for parents to remember that bus drivers shouldn’t be expected to be babysitters. They are not ultimately responsible for ensuring a child goes directly into their house once dropped off, or for notifying parents when a child is conspicuously absent. GPS trackers on school buses help bridge the gap, offering parents a way to track their children’s bus and be notified when the bus arrives; thus, alleviating some of the pressure on bus drivers.