SCHOOL DISTRICTS HAVING DIFFICULTY GETTING BUS DRIVERS CERTIFIED
Gainesville, TX-- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates commercial driver's license (CDL) issuing and testing for all states and jurisdictions. Beginning in July 2015, the FMCSA required all states to adopt uniform testing standards for the commercial driver's license (CDL). The federal government passed these measures in large part to improve highway safety among truck drivers. Unfortunately, this unification has created unintended consequences for school bus drivers.
Despite the safety intent of these new measures, local school bus transportation had exhibited a solid safety record long before the federal government implemented new standards. Unlike the trends for other commercial vehicles, school bus accidents resulting in fatalities have actually been relatively few. However, because a school bus is considered a commercial motor vehicle under state and federal law due to the weight and size of the vehicle, the number of passengers it can carry, and similar in design and equipment as other Class B vehicles, the new CDL requirements also affected everyday school bus drivers.
The Office of Rep. Drew Springer has received several complaints from school districts about their applicants for CDL "S" endorsement (school bus drivers) and the problems they are having. One superintendent stated that his drivers failed the new test for "not being detailed enough" in describing mechanical parts underneath the bus. Another failed because he did not adequately explain the purpose of the mud flap. To remain compliant with federal standards and continue issuing CDLs to its residents, Texas was forced to approve and implement the new testing standards or risk losing up to $240 million every year in federal transportation dollars.
In an attempt to combat these issues, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has started to create enhanced exam materials for school bus drivers to study before testing. DPS has also established a Third-Party Skills Test (TPST) program that will give school districts the opportunity to provide tests to school employees at the district's convenience. Rep. Springer highly encourages all school districts to become a TPST provider or partner with an ISD that is already a TPST provider.
"I know this is not the solution our school districts wanted, nor is it mine," stated Rep. Springer. "However, the Federal Government has gone with a one size fits all plan that has not shown to make our children safer in buses and instead increases costs for our local school districts." Rep. Springer encourages any constituents of HD 68 with questions or concerns about this issue or other state-related matters, to contact him directly at District68.Springer@house.texas.gov.