WASHINGTON, D.C. — Deficiencies in the oversight of school bus driver qualifications prompted a call from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for immediate improvements in the form of three safety recommendations issued on Tuesday.
The NTSB issued an urgent safety recommendation to Baltimore City Public Schools, requesting that the Maryland State Department of Education have an independent and neutral third party conduct a performance audit of the school district's transportation department. The recommendation was accompanied by a second safety recommendation seeking corrective action to improve internal controls to ensure that all school bus drivers meet qualification standards and do not pose any safety risks.
The third recommendation, issued to the Maryland State Department of Education, seeks modification of the Code of Maryland Regulations to require that notice be made to the department of all drivers found not qualified during pre-employment screening and to clarify certain terms used in the code.
The recommendations are part of the NTSB’s ongoing investigation into the Nov. 1, 2016, collision between a school bus and a transit bus in Baltimore.
The school bus driver, Glenn Chappell, hit a car and a pillar, entered oncoming traffic, and hit the driver’s side of a Maryland Transit Administration bus, killing Chappell and five of the transit bus passengers. (No students were aboard the school bus at the time.)
Chappell was not authorized to drive a school bus at the time of the crash, according to The Baltimore Sun. The NTSB's preliminary report, released in December, found that Chappell had a history of seizures, diabetes, and hypertension.
The full safety recommendation report, including information on the accident sequence, is available here.