It's a little safer on the school bus this fall, thanks to an investigation by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters - over the next few months Connecticut will take extra steps to make sure school bus operators are keeping better tabs on any arrests or infractions involving their drivers.
The state wants to make sure school bus drivers have been obeying the rules of the road, and haven't been pulled over by police for any other reason, either on duty, or during their own time. A Troubleshooters investigation last winter revealed a third of the state’s largest school bus operators were not regularly checking up on a special list of drivers every two weeks, as state law requires.
The Troubleshooters brought the discovery to state Representative Andy Fleischmann. He worked to push through a bill through last session that allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct random checks of school bus operators to make sure they are keeping tabs on their drivers' records every two weeks, or face fines of up to $1,000 per occurrence.
The DMV said it will update its software so it gets a regular readout on how often school bus operators are checking up on their drivers. The new system will be up and running by early September, and enforcement will begin in November, at no extra cost to the state.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters also revealed many police were not familiar with a law requiring them to report to the DMV any arrest of someone with a public passenger endorsement or school bus driver license. That prompted police departments, including Hartford, to send out reminders to officers. This information is now being automatically transferred to the DMV as Connecticut phases in a new statewide criminal information system.
The Connecticut School Transportation Association, known as COSTA, which represents school bus operators in the state, said "COSTA fully supports any effort on the DMV's part to ensure that all school bus operators are fully in compliance with this law.”