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1) What is a school bus?
Georgia statute defines a school bus as a motor vehicle operated for the transportation of school children to and from school or school activities.
Alternatively, it is used for the transportation of children to and from church or church activities.
It specifically excludes a motor vehicle with a capacity to transport 15 children or less when such transportation is not to and from school.
A local transit system that transports children and only children to or from school can also be a school bus.
2) Are school bus drivers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?
School bus drivers are exempt from nearly all of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations except for CDL requirements and drug and alcohol testing requirements.
That’s because the transportation is being performed by state and local entities, which are exempt from other safety rules such as driver qualifications, hours or service, and vehicle maintenance rules.
Even if the school bus driver is a private company who has been contracted with the school, the exemption applies when it is transporting children to and from school.
3) When does the FMCSR apply to private companies operating school buses?
Private companies are not exempt from the FMCSR’s when they are contracted to transport students on field trips or extracurricular activities in the interstate commerce (i.e. class trip, athletic event, band competition, etc.).
4) Is a school bus required to be registered with the Department of Revenue?
5) What are the minimum qualifications to be a school bus driver in Georgia?
The minimum qualifications to be a school bus driver in Georgia are:
18 years of age;
Posses a valid CDL license (i.e. Class A, B, or C with proper P and S endorsements);
Ass a physical examination within 60 days of employment;
Good moral character;
Minimum of 2 years of driving experience, generally;
Complete a pre-employment drug test
6) What training is required to be a school bus driver in Georgia?
The minimum, basic training required to be a school bus driver in Georgia consists of a minimum of twelve (12) hours of classroom, six (6) hours of driving time without students, and six (6) hours of driving time with students.
A person with little driving experience may require longer training.
Additionally, the Georgia Board of Education requires undergo annual in-service and training programs.
7) Do local school systems keep records of driver training?
8) Is a bus driver required to obtain a yearly medical certification?
9) Is a bus driver required to undergo a performance evaluation each year?
10) Are bus drivers required to perform daily inspections?
School bus drivers are required to perform pre-trip and post-trip inspections of their school bus.
The pre-trip inspection includes making sure the following is in good working order:
Lighting devices and reflectors;
Stop arm and flashing lights;
Emergency door and exits;
Rear vision mirror(s).
In addition the driver must be satisfied that emergency equipment is ready and available for use, such as fire extinguisher, emergency triangles, and first aid kit.
11) How long are daily inspection records kept before they can be destroyed?
The daily driver vehicle inspection report is only required to be maintained for three months from the date it was first prepared.
After that, the report can be destroyed without any repercussion.
12) Is a school bus required to stop at a railroad crossing?
A school bus, whether empty or not, is required to stop at a railroad crossing at all times.
The bus must stop within 50 feet but no close than 15 feet from the crossing.
There are certain exceptions such as when traffic is being directed by a police officer or railroad flagman. Other exceptions include when a traffic-control device signals traffic to proceed or when the railroad is abandoned and marked as abandoned.
13) How fast is a school bus allowed to travel?
Generally, a school bus in Georgia can only travel a maximum of 40 miles per hour when transporting children, unless the bus needs to travel along qualifying interstates and highways.
Then, the school bus can travel a maximum of 55 miles per hour.
14) Are buses required to have their headlights turned on when transporting children?
15) How long must a school bus remained stop when children are disembarking?
16) Is a bus driver required to engage the parking brakes every time passengers are loading or unloading?
Georgia law requires that bus drivers completely stop the bus and engage the parking brakes every time passengers are being loaded or unloaded.
This means the parking brakes must remain engaged until each passenger disembarking the bus is off the roadway and has safely reached a pedestrian area.
17) Is a bus driver allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving?
A bus driver is prohibited from talking on a cell phone while driving and while passengers are loading or unloading. This prohibition applies even when the telephone call is made for school- related purposes.
18) What are the minimum insurance requirements for school buses?
The Georgia Board of Education requires minimum liability insurance of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per collision.
There is an additional $50,000 in property damage coverage as well as $5,000 in medical and death payment.
19) Are bus accidents reported to the Department of Education?
20) Are school buses allowed to transport students that exceed the seating capacity?
Georgia law specifically prohibits a school bus is from having a load of children that exceeds 120% of the manufacturer’s rated seating capacity for the bus.
However, if the circumstances show that having more than 100% and less than 120% was still dangerous and unreasonable, negligence could still be proven.
21) Can a bus driver refuel while children are on the bus?
22) Can a bus driver keep a weapon on the bus?
23) What statutes and regulations may apply to school bus drivers?
Some Georgia statutes and regulations that may apply to school bus drivers and their buses include:
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-210 (Annual Performance Evaluation);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-211 (Employee Files, Applications, Background Checks, etc.);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.5 (Student Codes of Conduct & Safety Rules on School Buses);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1075 (Use of Buses for Recreational and Educational Activities);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1090 (Accident Insurance for Children on School Buses);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1092 (Insurance Coverage for General Public; Waiver of Immunity);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1122 (Penalties for Driver Refusing to Submit to Test);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1125 (Annual Driver Training & Initial Certification);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1126 (Written Policies & Procedures of School Bus Operations);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1127 (Schedule of School Bus Routes);
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1130 (Duties for Traffic Safety Around Schools);
O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1 (School Bus, Defined);
O.C.G.A. § 40-5-147 (CDL Requirements);
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-142 (Requirements to Stop at Railroad Crossings);
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-460 (Bus Speed Limits);
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-161 (Headlight and Communication Equipment Required);
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-162 (Use of Visual Signals);
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-164 (Duties of Driver when Children Disembarking);
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-165 (Operation of School Buses);
O.C.G.A. § 40-8-114 (Application to Buses by Private Entities);
O.C.G.A. § 40-8-220 (Inspection of Public School Buses);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 570-30-.12 (Daily Inspections);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 160-5-3-.03 (School Bus Inspections);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 160-5-3-.04 (School Bus Insurance);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 160-5-3-.08 (Driver Education);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 160-5-3-.13 (Student Safety);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 160-5-3-.14 (Fuels and Explosives);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 160-5-3-.15 (Alcohol and Drug Testing);
Also, if the school bus driver is a private carrier who is contracted with a school to transport children for any other purpose other than to-and-from school, then the FMCSA safety rules apply.