What standards must school bus drivers meet?

We put our kids on buses every morning assuming they will be coming back in the afternoon. But a recent CBS News analysis suggests an astonishing indifference to who is driving those buses.

Every day, scores of school buses get into accidents – about 60 per day. That adds up to 22,000 bus crashes a year, and thousands of injured kids.

It gets worse. Not a week goes by that a school bus driver is arrested for DUI, illegal pornography, or – much, much worse – sexually assaulting a rider.

Can a driver be a convicted criminal?

School bus companies take a lax approach to weeding convicted criminals out of the driver pool.

Only two states keep track of drivers being arrested. But records are sparse and often erroneous. For instance, 21 states swore that no school bus drivers were charged with drunk driving over a -3-year period – but CBS learned that every single one of those states had documented evidence of that kind of arrest.

What standards are applied?

The requirements for school bus drivers are generally not as stringent as for city buses or overland coaches. As a result, many school bus drivers are not checked for conditions such as epilepsy, heart problems or psychological issues. Many drivers are hired via Craigslist.

In Tennessee, school bus drivers must pass a state commercial drivers license test, but that’s about all that is required. Since only a handful arrive from other states, federal safety rules often aren’t applied.

Bottom line: school buses are not as safe as we assume them to be. Drivers are not as screened for criminal records, crash history or medical conditions as we would like.

All these conditions make school bus companies vulnerable to lawsuits for injuries to children.

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