Beginning March 1, 2005, the Department of Public Safety will start phasing in a new school bus specific "S" endorsement on the Commercial Driver's Licenses for all school bus drivers. The requirement, a component of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA) is designed to promote the safe operation of school buses and is currently being implemented nationwide.
School bus driver testing is not new to Oklahoma. All current school bus drivers are required by state law to attend a 25 hour school bus workshop prior to transporting pupils to and from school functions. In addition to this workshop, drivers must successfuly pass four knowledge tests and a skills test performed in a school bus. DPS and the State Department of Education, Transportation Section, are working closely to address the new changes.
"The changes primarily shift the responsibility of examining drivers to the Department of Public Safety," said Casey Blackford, CDL Coordinator. "The majority of the drivers will be issued the license with the new endorsement with only a written test."
Blackford announced DPS plans to bring the examinations on-site, where the drivers are. "We are taking a pro-active approach in scheduling exam teams at locations throughout the state at technology centers and school districts to ease the burden of Oklahoma's estimated 9,000 active school bus drivers."
Applicants for the new school bus endorsement will be required to show primary and secondary identification as well as show proof of driving experience. "Drivers with a good driving record could have their skills test waived." said Blackford.