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Bus drivers must pass physical examination

Parents and school administrators can breathe a little easier when the double doors of the school bus close behind their students.

That’s thanks to a recent act signed by Gov. Robert Bentley.

As of May 14, the new Lt. Dexter Holcomb Act will require bus drivers across the state to have a physical examination by August 14 in order to be certified.

Drivers in the school system must be “physically qualified” to operate a school bus to transport students.

“We thought it was silly that someone carrying a load of tomatoes had to have an extensive physical and yet someone driving school children did not,” said Brad Holley, program administrator for Pupil Transportation. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association waives government entities and school bus drivers fall underneath that.”

The act will go into effect for new, current, future and substitute school bus drivers. Drivers will have the ability to be “grandfathered” in to the system if a doctor states the condition will not affect their ability to drive safely.

“I’ll be content that we have bus drivers that are noted as physically fit for their role,” Butler County School’s Superintendent Darren Douthitt said. “I’ll know each day that as those buses take the road that we don’t have to worry about those kinds of issues.”

Even with the waiver for governmental agencies, 46 of the 50 states have a set law in place for bus drivers with Alabama being one of the four that was left without such a law.

Any driver who fails to comply with the act will lose the Alabama School Bus Driver Certificate.

“(Parents) can feel a little more comfortable knowing that the drivers that (the school system) has on the road are in a better physical and mental state than they were able to know before,” Holley said. “They are physically qualified to hold an Alabama School Bus Driver Certificate.”