Proposed Legislation May Close Gap in Reporting Problematic Bus Driver Behavior

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In May, we covered a fatal Route 80 school bus vs. dump truck accident where it appeared that the bus driver veered across 3 lanes of highway traffic to reach the median in order to make an illegal turn. The accident cost the lives of one student and one teacher. 

The bus driver has been charged with 2 counts of vehicular homicide. After the crash, it was revealed that his driver’s license had been suspended 14 times, including once in 2018.

Proposed Miranda’s Law Would Require Notice of Bus Driver Violations

Named after the 10-year old girl killed in this accident, a proposed federal law would require school districts and school bus companies to be notified automatically each time one of their school bus drivers receives a traffic violation. The proposed law is co-sponsored by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).

The proposed nationwide employer notification service would be implemented by the U.S. Department of Transportation. If approved, real-time notifications would be sent from states to the federal database, which would then notify employers each time a bus driver’s license status changes because of a crash, moving violation or license suspension.

Current federal regulations require only that school bus drivers’ employers check their employees’ driving histories once a year. It is unlikely that commercial bus drivers self-report violations, as research shows that just 50%-80% do any self-reporting of reckless driving, accidents or DUI charges.

In the case of this Route 80 school bus accident, the Paramus school district said that they were unaware of the bus driver’s driving record.

Although Miranda’s Law will not solve all the problems that caused this tragic accident, the proposed legislation will provide bus drivers’ employers with quick notifications of problematic driving behaviors. 

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