ALBANY, N.Y. — Two bills that would strengthen pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing of school bus drivers have passed in the state legislature and await the governor’s signature.
S.2587E and companion bill A.208E, sponsored by Sen. Carl Marcellino and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, would require all school bus drivers, including those who drive smaller buses and are exempted under federal law, to be included in the sample pool for random tests and undergo pre-employment drug testing. Additionally, drivers would not be permitted to assume duty or operate a school bus within eight hours of consuming alcohol, an increase from six hours.
Current federal and state laws require that school bus drivers be subject to random testing for drugs and alcohol in accordance with regulated testing procedures, according to the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT). The association, however, has noted technical issues with the testing regimen and has sought to enhance it for school bus drivers in the state.
The NYAPT has applauded the legislation’s passage and encourages the governor to sign the bill. These measures were originally advocated by the association, among other school bus safety organizations, following numerous instances of school bus drivers being apprehended for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the association. The NYAPT met with the sponsors to urge the introduction of legislation to close the gaps in testing and to make the rules more stringent for school bus drivers.
“It was surprising to learn bus drivers of smaller school buses were not subject to random testing for drugs and alcohol,” Lupardo said. “By closing this loophole, our roads will be safer for everyone, but most importantly for the students who ride the bus to and from school every day. I’m glad we were able to get this legislation passed through both houses of the Legislature and look forward to it being signed by the governor.”
“School bus drivers do amazing work to keep our children safe each and every day of the school year. We trust them with our children and day after day, they earn that trust,” said Lori-Ann Savino, NYAPT president and director of transportation for Jericho (N.Y.) School District. “This legislation helps us and helps them ensure all the moms and dads that our children continue to be on the safest ride to school.”
Peter Mannella, executive director for NYAPT, noted that the legislation originated with the school bus industry as it considered ways to manage its internal controls and procedures more rigorously.
“We should not have to explain to the parents and the public why a bus driver had been given the keys to drive a school bus in a compromised condition,” he added. “That should never happen. We applaud Senator Carl Marcellino and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo for their introduction and advancement of this important legislation and we urge Governor Cuomo to sign it into law.”