Management

Driver Agility Testing: Variations and Applications Nationwide

Lisa Hudson
Posted on October 3, 2014
Moving from the driver’s seat to the rear exit is one job-related task that may be timed in an agility test. Drivers and a bus monitor are shown here performing a New York physical performance test.

Moving from the driver’s seat to the rear exit is one job-related task that may be timed in an agility test. Drivers and a bus monitor are shown here performing a New York physical performance test.

As part of the prerequisite to employment, districts and companies may require drivers to pass an agility test, also known as a dexterity test. But where and how that requirement becomes part of the hiring process varies across the U.S. Here, we take a look at the different ways agility tests are used. We also check in with states currently using a mandated, formalized test and report on additional developments in agility test considerations.

A step beyond physicals
As part of the hiring process, driver applicants submit to a physical exam. The exam can include a medical professional’s assessment of the applicant’s cardiovascular, diabetic, hearing and vision health. It may also screen for past and present physical and mental conditions (seizures, injuries, etc.) and for current or past drug use.

The exam and the associated form, which varies by state, may also require the medical professional to attest to the person’s ability to perform specific tasks that are part of the driver’s job. In other words, they may be asked to consider whether the applicant/driver could safely and successfully perform job-related tasks. However, results can vary by location or person performing the physical, and the applicant/driver may or may not be asked to formally demonstrate specific job-related abilities.

On the other hand, when specific job-related physical requirements are literally put to the test, you have a formal, separate agility/dexterity test. In addition to the medical physical, this is an authorized test that’s commonly administered by a district professional in a real-world setting (including on board a bus). It measures if the new applicant or current driver can safely operate certain controls on the bus within certain time limits, and it measures if the person has the capacity to safely lift and drag weighted items in a certain amount of time.

What’s commonly included?
The agility test is intended to measure abilities and reaction times in real-world situations, including both normal and emergency conditions. For all, passing or failing relies on whether or not the task was performed correctly and how many times it can be performed within a certain time limit:

• Ascending and descending bus steps
• Alternating between throttle and brake
• Depressing and holding brake and clutch
• Manually opening and closing entrance door
• Right- and left-side controls
• Getting from the driver’s seat to the rear exit
• Lowering and lifting object from floor-level emergency exit to ground and back (may not be timed; only checked if done safely).
• Dragging 125 pounds 30 feet in 30 seconds (weight and time may vary)

Some exams test the above items separately, while others may combine tasks.

Florida’s 2006 update
In Florida, drivers are required to successfully pass an established dexterity test at least every 13 months, usually in conjunction with their physical examinations, which are required at least every 13 months. In 2006, Florida found that it was time to make updates to the test. It was becoming popular for districts to purchase larger capacity and transit-style buses, explains Claudia Claussen, public information officer with the Florida Department of Education, but the older test didn’t take those larger bus specs into consideration.

Another new consideration that was addressed was the then-recently added school bus specifications requiring air-operated entrance doors on the buses. Accordingly, the 2006 update also addressed the requirement for manually opening and closing an air-operated service door.

When the test updates were added, Florida also issued updated recommended guidelines for administering the test. The updated guidelines included where the examiner should be positioned when administering aspects of the test and what kind of responses should be flagged by the examiner as problematic.

As part of an agility test at Arizona’s Litchfield Elementary School District, Eddie Solis moves 35 pounds from the floor of the bus to the ground, and then back up to the floor of the bus.
As part of an agility test at Arizona’s Litchfield Elementary School District, Eddie Solis moves 35 pounds from the floor of the bus to the ground, and then back up to the floor of the bus.

Related Topics: driver wellness

Comments ( 1 )
  • Rose

     | about 6 years ago

    Yes, we in MS have to take the test once a year. It has been in place a long here. The test is not bad at all, we do ours in the summer months in that what I don't like about it . The physicals is what stopping people from getting medical forms now. It's getting hard!!!!! The way it's going now you don't know if you will have a Cdl when you take your physical exam anymore. Certain meds, neck size, if you smoke, a1c and etc. Cdl drivers will have to find a new line of work soon with the new requirements in place. It's bad enough we don't make any money, have no insurance are benefits. For all the trouble and problem we put up on a daily basis. It takes a VERY VERY SPECIAL PERSON TO DRIVE A SCHOOL BUS.!!!!!!! GOD BLESS HAVE A BEAUTIFUL EVENING.

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