ST. PAUL, Minn. — Under a bill passed by the Minnesota State Legislature, drivers licensed to operate Type III vehicles for school districts would be prohibited from using cell phones and would have to adhere to other rules beginning in the 2008-09 school year.
The bill now awaits approval by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Type III vehicles are vans or cars used to transport students for which drivers are only required to hold a regular Class D driver’s license without the school bus endorsement.
Authored by state Sen. Rick Olseen, SF 2988 would prohibit Type III drivers from using a cell phone while operating the vehicle and establishes a zero-tolerance policy for controlled substances.
Type III vehicle drivers would also be required to complete physical examinations, background checks, drug and alcohol testing and comprehensive safety training — encompassing proper use of restraints, student behavior, loading and unloading procedures, and pre-trip vehicle inspections. The bill’s rules would go into effect in August and September.
Olseen said that he became a school bus safety advocate after a student in his district was killed in a Type III vehicle accident last spring. The driver, who was also killed, was found to have had marijuana in his system and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.