WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal ban on texting for truck and bus drivers unveiled last week only applies to school bus drivers in limited cases, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) official clarified.
Tom Yager, chief of the FMCSA’s Driver and Carrier Operations Division, told SBF that the texting ban applies to drivers who are covered by 49 CFR 390.17. School bus drivers are not covered if they are employees of a government agency, such as a school board, or if they are operating within the same state or transporting students to and from school.
An example of a school bus driver who would be covered by 390.17 is a contractor-employed driver transporting students on a field trip out of state.
Still, FMCSA may seek to ban other school bus drivers from texting.
“FMCSA has indicated that we will be issuing a proposed rule, hopefully within a few months, that will elaborate on the texting guidance that was issued,” Yager said. “It is possible that the proposed rule may affect school bus drivers not currently covered by 390.17, but that is only a possibility.”
Some states already specifically prohibit school bus drivers from using cell phones — hand-held or hands-free — and some states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones or just from texting.