Physicals now required for all bus drivers

Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 16, 2012


Local bus drivers who plan to transport students to and from school this upcoming school year must now receive a state-mandated physical.

The state legislature passed the Lt. Dexter Holcomb Act and it was recently signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley, and requires that anyone in Alabama who wants to operate a school bus must first complete a physical examination. It’s also something they must pay for themselves.

“This new requirement will help Alabama school systems and school bus drivers continue transporting students safely,” Joe Lightsey, director of pupil transportation, Alabama Department of Education said. “I encourage all school bus drivers and others holding an Alabama School Bus Driver Certificate to contact their local school system transportation office immediately to learn more about complying with new regulation.”

Covington County Schools Transportation Director Donnie Franklin said this is different than the regular DOT physical, but is sufficient enough for the new state mandate.

“We haven’t required the physical in the past, but now we have to,” he said. “All bus drivers must get one before school starts. They must get this before they can transport students.”

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart said he never understood why it wasn’t a state mandate before.

“Prior to this law, we were only required to have drivers who cross into other states for ball games or field trips to have a DOT card, which requires a physical,” he said. “My understanding is the required physical will mirror the DOT physical. I believe that we should applaud our lawmakers for this. It is long over due and will help ensure the safety of students across the state. It will be new for us, but I maintain my bus license, so I am included in this requirement, and I will be the first in line.”

Compliance is mandatory and goes into full effect on August 14.

Franklin said paperwork is coming down from the state department, and he should have it in the coming days.

The general provisions of the act are:

• A person may not be allowed to drive a school bus transporting students unless he or she is physically qualified.

• The physical qualifications “mirror” those required for a Department of Transportation Medical Card.

• The act applies to new, current and future school bus drivers, including substitute drivers.

• The results of the physical examination must be documented on forms prescribed by ADE and maintained at the school system’s central office.

• Drivers may be “grandfathered” for any condition if the doctor states that the condition will not adversely affects their ability to control and safely operate a school bus. A signed waiver is also required.

• Drivers who fail to comply with the Act will lose their Alabama School Bus Driver Certificate.

The act was signed into law by Governor Bentley on May 14.