New law requires school bus drivers to pass physical - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

New law requires school bus drivers to pass physical

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When school buses roll out this August the person behind the wheel will be physically able to handle the job.

A new state law requires every bus driver pass a physical examination, no exceptions.

Drivers must have the physical completed and the results in by August 14. The idea behind the law is to keep students safe.

Even though drivers will have to pay out of pocket for the exam, many are on board with the new requirement.

"I think it's a good idea. I think it ensures our children's safety even more so," says Stephanie Dikis.

Dikis has been a bus driver for Shelby County schools for a decade. She says, "If you're not physically fit enough in an emergency or whatever, you not only put yourself at risk but your students also."

Kevin Snowden, transportation coordinator for Shelby County schools says the changes will offer assurance that drivers are physically able to drive the bus and handle situations that require quick reaction.

This is just one more thing of insurance for their children and their children's safety," says Snowden. "I think it's a move in the right direction for the state of Alabama. I think that it ensures that we have qualified physically as well as skill level drivers on the road every day carrying our children."

Snowden says about 40 percent of bus drivers for the Shelby County system, including Dikis, already take a physical each year.

This year, the remaining 60 percent must comply.
     
"If drivers can meet the health requirements that would be necessary for say, a truck driver they should be fine," Snowden says.


Jefferson County school bus driver, Carol Robbins wasted no time making her appointment.
Even though it will cost her 50 dollars, she thinks the new requirement is good.

"I'm going to get it done because we can't pick our buses up without it," says Robbins.

Jefferson County schools are in the process of putting together packets that will have the physical examination report, needed to be completed. As well as a memorandum put out by the state department of education.

The physical qualifications that a driver must meet are very similar to the ones needed for a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical card.  It checks for conditions that would adversely affect a driver's ability to control and safely operate a school bus.

If the driver doesn't comply with the new law, the driver will lose their Alabama school bus driver certificate, thus be ineligible to drive the bus.