School bus drivers are an essential part of the education system, responsible for safely transporting students to and from school every day. They’re also in chronically short supply these days. Perhaps you’re thinking of a rewarding life behind the wheel of the big yellow bus. If so, consider these nine things you should know about acquiring and keeping a commercial driver’s license or CDL.
CDL Requirements May Vary
Commercial driver’s license requirements can vary from state to state, so it's important to educate yourself about the specific requirements in your state.
CDLs Come in Different Classes
Commercial licenses have three different classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The class of CDL required for a school bus driver depends on the size and weight of the vehicle they will be driving. Most school bus drivers need a Class B CDL, which allows them to drive a single vehicle with a weight of over 26,001 pounds, or a combination of vehicles with a total weight of less than 26,001 pounds.
CDLs Have Endorsements
The licenses have endorsements that allow drivers to operate certain types of vehicles or to transport specific types of cargo. School bus drivers typically need a passenger endorsement, which allows them to transport passengers.
CDLs Require Specialized Training
Besides passing a written test and a driving test, school bus drivers must complete specialized training to obtain a CDL. This training includes both classroom instruction and hands-on driving experience.
CDLs Must Be Regularly Renewed
A school bus driver’s license must be renewed regularly, usually every four years. School bus drivers must complete a certain number of continuing education hours each year to maintain their CDL.
CDL Holders Must Pass Drug and Alcohol Testing
Commercial driver’s license holders are subject to drug and alcohol testing as part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations.
CDL Holders Require a Clean Driving Record
License holders must maintain a clean driving record, and are subject to stricter penalties for traffic violations than non-commercial drivers.
That CDL Can Be Suspended or Revoked
A commercial driver’s license can be suspended or revoked for several reasons, including traffic violations, drug or alcohol use, or failure to maintain the required medical certification.
Federal Regulations Apply
Commercial driver’s license holders are subject to numerous federal regulations. It's important for school bus drivers to be familiar with these regulations to ensure they are complying.
Editor's Note: Removed mention of hours of service, which don't apply to most public school bus drivers.