Officials from across the pupil transportation industry combined their voices in calling for restrictions on cell phone use by school bus drivers.
In February, the American School Bus Council (ASBC) issued a statement addressing the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recent recommendation on the topic.
The ASBC called for the prohibition of:
The use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices — even those with hands-free devices — while driving, except in extreme emergencies.
The use of cell phones while supervising the loading and unloading of students.
Also in February, members of the National Association for Pupil Transportation voted nearly unanimously in approval of a resolution restricting cell phone use by bus drivers.
The National School Transportation Association adopted a similar policy at its winter meeting in January (see "NSTA adopts seat belt policy").
In November, the NTSB recommended a cell phone ban for bus drivers in November following its investigation of an accident in which a motorcoach driver who was talking on a hands-free cell phone struck a low bridge. The agency said that the use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones can impair driving performance.
“We agree with the NTSB that cell phones should be not used when driving a school bus, except in emergency situations,” NAPT President Lenny Bernstein said. “We will do our best to spread this message as far and wide as possible.”
Others in the pupil transportation industry called for a lesser degree of restrictions on cell phone use. In a survey of its members, the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation found that cell phones are effective replacements for two-way radios in certain situations, such as during trips that extend beyond radio range or when communicating confidential information. The association supported a bill currently in the state legislature that would ban personal cell phone calls but not business calls.