Every day during the school year, you and countless other parents in Manassas place the safety of your children in the hands of a small group of individuals selected to drive school buses. Given the precious cargo that they are carrying, you might assume that bus drivers are subject to very strict standards. Yet how correct are you in that assumption, and what responsibility (if any) would a school district have if a bus driver causes an accident?
Per Section 8VAC20-70-280 of Virginia’s Administrative Code, those wanting to drive school buses in the state must meet the following requirements:
- Pass a physical examination and have a current endorsement signed by a physician or nurse practitioner verifying the driver’s capacity to operate a bus
- Provide a copy of records confirming that he or she has not been convicted of driving under the influence in the previous five years and has no more than two moving violations on his or her record in the previous 12 months
- Provide two letters of recommendation from people living within the school district’s boundaries confirming his or her good moral character
- Have a current commercial driver’s license
- Pass alcohol and controlled substance screening tests
- Be at least 18 years of age
A school district that knowingly employs a driver who does not meet each of the aforementioned qualifications could be held liable for any accident said driver causes when operating its vehicles. Even in those cases where a driver does meet the criteria yet is still involved in an accident, the district could still be responsible if the accident occurred as the driver was in the course of fulfilling his or her employment obligations.