New York Bills Would Tighten Drug and Alcohol Testing for School Bus Drivers

Thomas McMahon
Posted on January 11, 2018
New York lawmakers are again considering bills that would bolster drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers. File photo by Barry Johnson
New York lawmakers are again considering bills that would bolster drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers. File photo by Barry Johnson

ALBANY, N.Y. — State lawmakers are again considering bills that would bolster drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers in New York.

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) signaled its support of the legislation. While current federal and state laws mandate random drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers, NYAPT has pointed to technical issues with the test regimen and has called for improvements.

Corresponding bills S2587 and A208 would bring about multiple changes, including:

• School districts and contractors would have to immediately report to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles if a school bus driver fails a pre-employment or random drug and alcohol test.

• A driver who fails a test would be disqualified from driving a school bus for one year.

• School districts and contractors would have to conduct pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing on all drivers, regardless of commercial driver's license (CDL) endorsement. NYAPT noted that this would cover drivers of smaller school transportation vehicles with a Class C CDL, which aren’t included under the federal testing laws.

• All such drivers would have to be included in the random testing pool.

• Drivers would not be allowed to operate a school bus within eight hours of consuming alcohol (an increase from six hours).

The companion bills, both of which were introduced last year but failed to pass, have been revived and referred to the transportation committees in the New York Assembly and Senate.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, a sponsor of the legislation, has targeted drug and alcohol testing as far back as 2013. The proposals respond to instances of school bus driver DUIs in New York.

Pupil transportation officials, including NYAPT, have called for measures to close the gaps in testing and make the rules more stringent for school bus drivers.

“This legislation originated with the school bus industry as we looked for ways to police ourselves and to ensure we did 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,” NYAPT Executive Director Peter Mannella said. “That should never happen.”

NYAPT President Lori-Ann Savino, director of transportation for Jericho (N.Y.) School District, said that the bills from Assemblywoman Lupardo and Sen. Carl Marcellino would boost parents’ confidence in pupil transporters.

“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,” Savino said. “This legislation helps us and helps them [assure] all the moms and dads that our children continue to be on the safest ride to school.”

Also on the drug and alcohol testing front, NYAPT is offering its members training in the federally regulated “reasonable suspicion” protocol, which helps in identifying drivers who might be impaired. NYAPT said that the training provides tools for recognizing the signs of drugs or alcohol that could affect the safe performance of a driver.

Related Topics: drug use/testing, impaired driving, New York

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 3 )
  • Rex hall

     | about 2 years ago

    Are they including mechanics, & other staff or just drivers? How are they to know if a driver drank 8 hrs or less? Using the same BA test parameters?

  • See all comments
More Stories

School Bus Songs: ‘Stop When the Arm is Out’

Michigan City (Ind.) Area Schools’ transportation department, also known as the “stop-arm singers,” recreate The Supremes’ famous “Stop in the Name of Love” — urging motorists to think twice before illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Heidi King’s last day as acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be Aug. 31. Photo courtesy NHTSA

NHTSA Acting Administrator to Step Down

Heidi King’s last day as acting administrator of the regulatory agency will be Aug. 31. She will be replaced by James Owens, the U.S. DOT’s deputy general counsel.


School Bus Songs: 'Washboard Road'

Jay Heilman, a bus driver with Pasco County (Fla.) Schools, is joined by other members of the district’s transportation staff as he details the trials and triumphs of pupil transportation in his own catchy version of Lil Nas X's “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

File photo courtesy School Bus Safety Co.

Shake-Ups Prompt a Closer Look at Safety

Although we all agree that the motoring public needs to be more cautious, bus drivers can also help mitigate the number of dangerous incidents by following safe and consistent loading and unloading practices.

When unloading, do not step off the bus before sticking out the hand-held stop sign and checking both directions alongside the bus for hazards.

PHOTOS: California Loading, Unloading Safety

Sabine Konrad, driver instructor for Visalia Unified School District, demonstrates some key steps designed to boost safety when crossing students in the loading and unloading process use by the state.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!