In New Jersey, there was a tragic incident where multiple kids injured. According to Time Magazine, a bus driver for the school district in New Jersey was driving around twelve special needs students. After her use of Heroin, she overdosed and crashed into a tree.
Closer to home, this past year in Maine, the Biddeford girls field hockey team played the Maine state championship field hockey game. This game was played at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Maine. On their way home, the bus was pulled over. They soon found out their bus driver was driving the bus under the influence. This caused many concerns for student-athletes, their families, and friends. Luckily, in this case, no one got hurt, but unfortunately, in other parts of the United States, situations like this have left many kids hurt, even dead.
This is why it is essential to have background checks and physicals to make sure the adult is mentally and physically healthy to be operating a bus with possibly 40 plus children aboard.
From the first day of kindergarten to the last day of college, around 25 million kids ride a bus. What many people do not think about it, do you really know who is driving you?
A school’s responsibility is to keep a child safe from the second they step onto school property to the second they leave. To help ensure this, schools should do yearly background checks, mandatory physicals, and drug tests every three months for each driver.
Dr. Bruce Dyer is the substance abuse counselor at Westbrook High School, and he has been driving buses for students for seven years. “People don’t expect that a bus driver is gonna turn up positive for some kind of drug in the system, maybe it is a good idea to have tested, it will certainly put people on alert,” Dyer said. In his experience, Dr. Dyer says he has only been required to take two drug tests in his seven years for driving. He believes there should be things such as more education and awareness and learning for new bus drivers.
According to Dr. Dyer, one issue is school districts are having a difficult time finding bus drivers. He cites how there are behavior issues, money issues, and time commitment for new drivers. He explains how difficult it is to try to maintain safety on the road, which is your primary concern with possibly 50 students on the bus if there are kids in the back who may not be behaving themselves. It is a huge responsibility to be a school bus driver.
On the other hand, a few people may believe that making bus drivers take a drug test every three months is a waste of time and money and won’t change anything. Any Commercial Drivers License (CDL) driver or bus drivers are put through a background check. They take their fingerprints, they also are put into a pool, they can be randomly chosen to have a drug test any time, that day they have to take it or they will lose their license. This is why a few people may find the idea of doing drug tests every three months is irrelevant because they shouldn’t be using drugs when they never know when their names will get chosen for a drug test.
Another reason the schools don’t do drug tests so often is that they cost so much money. The school has many things they have to pay for; if they constantly had to keep paying for every bus driver to have a drug test, it would cost a lot of money. Many people may think safety over money in this case, but if the school is paying for things like drug tests, they may not afford to buy other things to keep the school running.
This could save the lives of many kids. You can never trust everyone, but this would make parents feel better about putting their children on buses, and children feel in a safe environment knowing they are going to make it to their destination with no danger. Like Mr. Dyer said, “it doesn’t become a problem until it is a problem, and then it’s too late.”