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Highway safety groups call for action on impaired school bus drivers

Jenni Bergal, on

Published in News & Features

Employers, including school districts, are required to submit to the clearinghouse information about drivers who fail or refuse drug or alcohol tests, whether during their pre-employment screening or after they are hired. They also must query the database for all current and prospective employees before allowing them to operate a commercial vehicle.

State driver licensing agencies will be required to query the clearinghouse to determine if a commercial driver has a history of failed tests, starting in 2023.

That's not good enough, Chase said, adding that the federal government should not wait three years to require state participation.

"State agencies should be doing it for school bus drivers," she said. "It's an added assurance that they do not have a history of drug and alcohol violations. In other words, they (state driver licensing agencies) are doing their homework."

Chase said her group also would like to see states collect data on impaired school bus drivers, which Stateline found is not being done.

"If the data is lacking, there should be more collected by the states," she said, "so we can determine how significant of a problem this is."

Every school day, about 480,000 buses carry more than 25 million students to and from school and other activities, such as sports events and field trips, according to Charlie Hood, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.


School buses are the safest way for children to get to school -- and it's rare to find a school bus driver impaired while on duty, Hood said. But he noted that even one such case is "way too many."


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