A Short Course On Driver Training

“Pairing a well-trained driver with a well-built school bus makes students riding school buses eight times safer than student traveling to and from schools by other means,” says Kathleen Furneaux, executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute.

What training produces a well-trained driver?

Since school districts train their own drivers, there are thousands of variations on driver training. Furneaux can describe a basic program used by school districts in New York State.

“It starts off with 20 to 40 hours of training behind-the-wheel,” she says. “This is where a prospective driver learns the basics of physically driving the bus.

“Next drivers take a road test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Those that pass undergo a physical performance test, a medical-physical examination and federal and state background checks.”

And that’s not nearly all.

Furneaux continues, saying that the prospective drivers next receive six hours of pre-service training. “This gets into the specifics of driving a school bus,” she says.

The road test includes a written test on passenger transportation plus questions about driving a school bus.

Drivers that make it this far receive a listing on the state’s school bus roster of drivers, which is registered with the DMV. They receive a license with a passenger endorsement and a school bus endorsement.

After pre-service training, drivers can begin to work. Within the first year, however, another 40 hours of training is mandated by the state.

That’s still not it. “From that point forward, drivers must take four hours of training every year.”

Then they are school bus drivers.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

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