The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) released on Thursday a new position paper that outlines the integral role that school bus drivers play in maintaining safety and education access.
“America’s Professional School Bus Drivers: Their Importance to Student Safety and Educational Success” gives an overview of the requirements that the approximately half a million school bus drivers in the U.S. must meet, including licensure, qualifications, and training. It also provides recommendations and best practices for driver qualifications and performance in areas where uniform national regulations may not exist. Those areas include commercial driver’s license (CDL); pre-service training; in-service training; criminal background checks; drug and alcohol testing; and medical fitness.
In addition, the position paper provides a historical background of school bus driver selection and training from the early 1920s to the creation of the National Conference (now “Congress”) on School Transportation in 1939, to the efforts of NASDPTS at the federal, state, and local levels today to improve the knowledge and skills of school bus drivers and to be involved in rulemaking or federal initiatives that impact school bus drivers.
“The performance of school bus drivers and their attention to safety remain the most important and critical factors in protecting student riders from harm,” the position paper notes.
The paper also points to the fact that although school bus drivers and students can reduce the hazard of student pedestrians being struck by motorists not stopping for school buses by being aware of their surroundings and following safety protocols, that is a factor that school bus drivers have limited control over.
Without school bus drivers, many students would not have equitable access to educational programs, the paper adds.
NASDPTS is encouraging members to share the information in the position paper with anyone who helps pupil transporters serve students and parents, such as school districts, school bus contractors, private schools, charter schools, and state officials.