However, as attendees said time and time again, distraction plays a major role in motorists passing stopped school buses. Landsberg said distractions are only worsening, with almost a half-bil- lion cellphones in use worldwide. He explained that no amount of new tech- nology, including cameras and extended stop arms, can reverse a common driver misconception that a crash “won’t hap- pen to me.”


The jaw-dropping moment for attend- ees during the conference was when a U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administra- tion (FMCSA) official announced that the agency plans to delay its new entry-level driver training (ELDT) regulations. Although an official announcement has

yet to be published in the Federal Register at this report, it is still scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 7, 2020, at least partially. Over the summer, the FMCSA an- nounced a two-year delay in implement- ing an electronic database component of the final rule. NASDPTS recommended that the entire rule be delayed until Feb. 7, 2022, rather than implement a partial rule, which could create confusion. Larry Minor, FMCSA’s associate ad- ministrator for policy, said there are five curricula included in the ELDT final rule. Those include Class A Commercial Driv- ing License (CDL), Class B CDL, Hazardous Materials Endorsement, Passenger En- dorsement and School Bus Endorsement. The new rule, he added, is designed to help cut the cost of upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL by an aver- age of $92 per driver. It would require the same level of theory training for first-time CDL applicants as for those who already hold a Class B CDL and are upgrading to a Class A CDL. These rules are now project- ed to be delayed until Feb. 7, 2022. However, Minor confirmed that the

CDL License Drug and Alcohol Clearing- house will be ready by the Jan. 6 imple- mentation date. The database will capture all drivers who are prohibited from oper- ating a commercial motor vehicle, based on Department of Transportation drug and alcohol program violations through- out all 50 states. All CDL holders are required to register

Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, discussed distracted driving with NASDPTS attendees. NTSB held a distracted driving summit at the University of Missouri last month.

online and provide consent for their em- ployers to run a query on them. Queries are required prior to a driver start date and are expected to be conducted annually within a district. Queries cost $1.25 per each person, but

there is the capability for a company to purchase queries in bulk. The clearing- house data will only capture instances of driving infractions starting on Jan. 6, 2020. The information will be stored for five years, Minor noted. This database will be used to prevent

drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence, or who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol, from at- tempting to work in another state with- out going through the proper substance abuse protocol, so they can be cleared to drive again. While some attendees voiced concerns

over potential violations of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Ac- countability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Minor assured them that certified medical review officers will be the ones reviewing the employee’s medical history, not the employer.

THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT Max Christensen, the state director

for the Iowa Department of Education, emotionally recounted the timeline of a fire on an Oakland, Iowa school bus crash that killed the elderly school bus driver and the lone high school student who was onboard.

Read more NASDPTS conference coverage at 12 THE SHOW REPORTER • NOV 2-5, 2019

NASDPTS Executive Director Charlie Hood speaks during the annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Following a crash investigation, the

NTSB recommended that all new and existing school buses be equipped with a fire suppression system. Randy Merritt, CEO of Fire-Gator, said a school bus fire occurs on average, 1.2 times a day. While Merritt is new to the in- dustry, he said he feels strongly that these systems will help protect the lives of stu- dents. For less than 35 cents a day, Merritt said, one could protect the school bus and the lives of the students on the bus. Jeff Kruger, vice president of field oper-

ations for FogMaker, said that a fire sup- pression system is designed to detect the fire and suppress it, so that additional time can be provided for a safe evacuation. Kruger discussed a pilot program the

company performed with Mobile County Public Schools in Alabama. For the pro- gram, 10 model-year 2001-2015 school buses were retrofitted with the fire sup- pression systems. After the pilot program concluded, Kruger said the district opted to have the system installed on its entire fleet of special education buses. Following the session, attendees con-

tinued the conversation in the conven- tion center halls and during lunch. Many shared the realization that it’s not a matter of “if a fire will happen, but when.” Attendees, while strapped with budget-

ary concerns, suggested that transporta- tion leaders at least broach the idea with their school boards. That way, the school board can be the final financial decision maker, to help alleviate risk from the transportation department. •

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24