School Bus Driver Requirements
School bus drivers are responsible for some very special cargo - your children, our students. Many Phoenix Central School District bus drivers are family, friends or neighbors in our community, they are not strangers driving our students to and from school and school-related activities. What you might not know about these family members, friends or neighbors are the stringent New York State requirements that they must complete to become a school bus driver and maintain a school bus driver's license. There's a lot more to it than just applying for the job and below are some of the requirements.
Drivers must have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL); class B, with a passenger (PS) endorsement.
How does a driver get this special job and license? It just might surprise you…
1) A potential school bus driver must be 21 years of age and already have a valid driver’s license for three or more years.
2) Study all the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) rules and regulations.
3) Pass a written exam to acquire a permit. (Out-of-pocket fee involved)
4) Take lessons from a 19A* certified instructor. This includes experience behind the wheel for as long as it takes to operate and maneuver the bus safely.
5) Make an appointment and pass a road test with DMV. (out-of-pocket fee for the license - costs more than a normal license)
6) Pass a physical examination with a form stating they are fit. A potential driver has to report any medications they are taking, even over-the-counter medication.
7) Pass a drug, alcohol and controlled substance test.
8) Have three personal references.
9) DMV conducts a search of the driver’s past driving record. (Driver abstract)
10) Provide fingerprints to apply for background checks conducted by the New York State Police Department., FBI, and Department of Criminal Justice.
11) Take and pass a 30-hour safety course to get a certificate within the first year.
But, wait, there’s more…
Once a bus driver has their license there’s a never-ending process the driver must go through to keep it. This includes...
1) A bus driver’s license is checked every year with DMV. All accidents or tickets must be reported to their employer. Yes, what drivers do in their private vehicle counts too.
2) A driver has to pass a physical examination every year with a form stating they are fit. A driver has to report any medications they are taking, even over the counter medication.
3) A driver has to go to a minimum of six hours of safety classes every year. This is to keep up with all the new rules and regulations that change regularly. In the past few years there has been a mainstreaming of children with special needs. All drivers need to know how to balance this successfully.
4) A driver is required to submit to random drug, alcohol and controlled substance testing
5) A driver is taken out in a school bus to have defensive driving and performance checked by a 19A* instructor. This is done at least once a year and must be passed in order to drive a school bus.
6) A driver must pass a written test bi-annually in order to drive a school bus.
7) A driver must pass a physical performance test bi-annually in order to drive a school bus.
8) A driver is required to perform emergency evacuation drills three times a year with all their students.
9) A driver has to pre-trip and post-trip the school bus every time they drive. They have to report to a mechanic if they find anything wrong and make sure it is corrected. There is a work sheet called a DVIR they use to keep an accurate account of this information.
10) A driver has to create and maintain a current list of their student passengers and directions for each of their routes every year.
Now, think about this...
A bus driver can have kindergarten through twelfth grade students on their bus and some drivers have more than an just an A.M. and P.M. run. On average there could be as many as 50 students on one school bus. Bus drivers learn all of their children’s names. A driver pays attention and learns to recognize family and caregivers. When they drop off the little ones they know someone is there. If no one is home, the bus driver will bring the child back to the school. This is just one more aspect of a driver’s job.
*19A Certified Instructor: Most schools have a 19A instructor. They have additional training and testing to become 19A certified. They have to continually update every year to maintain this qualification. They are there to instruct, retest, and stay up-to-date on the current bus drivers every year.