August 20, 2014

Keeping close watch on proposed bus law

By Richard Deiser, Vice President, Bus Department
Bonnie Morr, Alternate Vice President, Bus Department

The Surface Transportation Authorization Act, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), includes provisions of interest to bus operators. The proposed law would:

  • Require interstate motor coach carriers to demonstrate knowledge of safety, accessibility and financial responsibility prior to being granted operating authority, and place a priority on safety audits.
  • Require safety fitness determinations, assignment of safety ratings, regular monitoring of safety performance, and annual inspection programs for motor coaches.
  • Require electronic on-board recorders to track hours-of-service compliance.
  • Require minimum driver training requirements, including behind-the-wheel instruction. We would also like to see required training in dealing with passenger threats and hazardous driving conditions.
  • Establish unique medical exams and certification forms for commercial drivers.

President Futhey also has directed our National Legislative Office to support H.R. 1135, the Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety Act, which would require increased bus-roof strength and fire suppression.

We are also seeking improvements to that bill to set window glazing requirements, construction standards to protect against hazards from alternative fuels, and authority of school bus drivers to discipline unruly students. And we are pushing for appropriate funding.