Qualifications of Bus Drivers | Policy 5760

Bus drivers who drive for the company or companies who have contracted to transport students in our district are employees of those companies. Drivers of any district-owned buses shall meet the same requirements, but will be paid directly by the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District. In all cases, a person shall be qualified to operate a bus only if such person:

a) Is at least twenty-one years of age;
b) Has been issued a currently valid driver’s license or permit which is valid for the operation of a bus in New York State;
c) Has passed the annual bus driver physical examination administered pursuant to Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. In no case shall the interval between physical examinations exceed a 12-month period;
d) Is not disqualified to drive a motor vehicle under Sections
509- c and 509-cc and any other provisions of Article 19-A of the Vehicle and Traffic Law;
e) Has completed, or is scheduled to complete, State Education Department safety programs as required by law;
f) Is in compliance with federal law and regulations, as well as District policy and/or regulations, as it pertains to meeting the standards governing alcohol and control substance testing of bus drivers if and when applicable.
g) Has taken and passed a physical performance test at least once every two (2) years and/or following an absence from service of sixty (60) or more consecutive days from his/her scheduled work duties;
h) Is in compliance with all other laws and regulations for operating a school bus, including licensing and training requirements.

Special Requirements For New Bus Drivers

Before employing a new bus driver, the Superintendent or his/her designee shall:

a) Require such person to pass a physical examination within four (4) weeks prior to the beginning of service;
b) Obtain a driving record from the appropriate agency in every state in which the person resided, worked, and/or held a driver’s license or learner’s permit during the preceding three years;
c) Investigate the person’s employment record during the preceding three years;
d) Require such person to submit to the mandated fingerprinting procedures;
e) Request the Department of Motor Vehicles to initiate a criminal history check;
f) Require that bus drivers pass the physical performance test, as mandated by Commissioner’s Regulations, before they transport students.


Administrative regulations will be developed to implement the provisions of drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers, as well as to address bus driver physical performance test guidelines.
Sections 509-c, 509-cc, and Article 19-A of the
Vehicle and Traffic Law
Education Law Section 3624
15 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)
Part 6
8 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)
Section 156.3
Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-143) 49 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 521 (b)
49 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Parts 40, 382, 391, 392, and 395
Adopted 12/22/97
Revised: 01/28/08

School Bus Driver Physical Performance Test Guidelines

In accordance with Commissioner’s Regulations, all regular or substitute school bus drivers employed by the District and/or private contractors providing student transportation services to the District must take and pass every two years a driver physical performance test. For individuals employed as school bus drivers as of September 1, 1997, there is a three year phase in of the testing requirement; such drivers must take and pass the physical performance test by July 1, 2000. Only those individuals hired as school bus drivers after September 1, 1997 must be immediately tested and pass the physical performance test before they may transport students.

The physical performance test is a separate requirement for each regular or substitute driver of school buses owned, leased, or contracted for by the School District; and is in addition to the physical fitness requirements and annual physical examination mandated pursuant to Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. It is the responsibility of the examining physician to require the school bus driver to undergo any diagnostic tests that are necessary to determine whether the driver has the physical and mental ability to safely operate a school bus.

The physical performance test shall be conducted by a certified school bus driver instructor (SBDI) and shall assess the driver/applicant’s ability to perform the following functions of a school bus driver:

1) Repeatedly open and close a manually operated bus entrance door;
2) Climb and descend bus steps;
3) Operate hand controls simultaneously and quickly;
4) Have quick reaction time from throttle to brake;
5) Carry or drag individuals in a bus emergency evacuation;
6) Repeatedly depress clutch and/or brake pedals; and,
7) Exit quickly oneself and students from an emergency door.

Each regular or substitute bus driver shall pass such physical performance test at least once every two years.

The testing date shall coincide with the driver’s requirement to take the biennial behind-the-wheel road test required by Section 509-g (Article 19-A) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. However, the physical performance test does not need to be administered on the same day as the biennial behind-the-wheel test in order to “coincide” with the biennial testing date. The District/private contractor may test drivers anytime within @ (30) days before or after the scheduled biennial test. However, as far as possible, drivers will receive reasonable notice concerning when they are scheduled for the performance test.

If any school bus driver is absent from service for sixty (60) or more consecutive days from his/her scheduled work duties, the bus driver must then take and pass the test before he/she is permitted to return to duty. Breaks of service for the summer months do not count towards the requirement unless the driver is scheduled to work during the summer.

A school bus driver hired after September 1, 1997 who fails any portion of the physical performance test given prior to transporting students, shall be deemed unqualified to operate a school transportation conveyance until a re-examination is passed. The driver/applicant may request re-examination which shall be administered no sooner than three (3) days from the prior test.

The cost of such re-examination shall be borne by the School District/contractor if the driver/applicant passes the re-examination, or by the driver/applicant if he/she fails the re-examination.

A certified teacher is not required to take the physical performance test unless employed as a regular or substitute bus driver. The driver physical performance test applies only to “each regular or substitute driver of a school bus owned, leased or subcontracted for by a school district.” Pursuant to State Education Department (SED) Guidelines, an “occasional driver” is a certified teacher employed by a school district or board of cooperative educational services who is not primarily employed on either a full-time or part-time basis as a school bus driver or substitute school bus driver. Consequently, an “occasional driver” is not a “regular or substitute driver” and is, therefore, not covered by the driver physical performance test requirements.

Pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulations, the examining physician has the authority to order diagnostic tests as part of the annual physical medical examination required for school bus drivers pursuant to such Regulations.

The examining physician may not order the physical performance test as part of the annual medical physical examination, or as a diagnostic test. Under SED Regulations, the driver physical performance test is not considered to be a medical diagnostic test and, therefore, may not be ordered by a physician as part of the medical physical exam.

Only certified school bus driver instructors (SBDIs) shall administer or conduct the physical performance test.
A school bus driver, who has passed a driver physical performance test, changes employers, the driver is also considered a new hire and is subject to immediate testing.

The cost of administering the test including any fee charged by the SBDI, or the cost of any specialized equipment, is eligible for transportation aid. The testing site will not be restricted to a regional center. The test should be given in a large parking lot, perhaps at the school or contractor’s garage.

The test was designed to be administered on a school bus. The only portion of the test conducted off the bus is the “carry or drag” requirement due to safety reasons. In order to insure that all school bus drivers are tested uniformly and fairly, the testing equipment for the “carry or drag” requirement has been standardized. The driver/applicant should be tested in the largest size school bus which they are licensed to drive and which is utilized in the District/contractor’s fleet.

As part of the school bus driver safety training program, instructional videos provided by the State Education Department may be shown, as deemed necessary or appropriate, to all school bus drivers and/or SBDIs.

SBDIs should complete SED Form PT 900 (see Form 5000F – School Bus Driver Physical Performance Test) with the results of the driver test. Once the SBDI has assembled a kit of material or equipment that will regularly be used for testing, he/she is to complete the Test Equipment Inventory (see Form 5000.1) and retain a copy with his/her records. If the SBDI changes any equipment for testing, a new Test Equipment Inventory is to be completed and filed with his/her records. If the results of any test conducted by the SBDI are challenged, the SBDI will need to provide detailed information concerning the testing equipment. A copy of the completed PT 900 (Form 5000F)¬†should be given to the driver. The original should be put in the driver’s personnel file. The SBDI should retain a copy for his/her records, with a copy forwarded to the State Education Department.

Each regular or substitute driver of a school bus owned, leased or contracted for by the District, as well as applicants for this position, will be appropriately notified of the driver physical performance test requirement as may be mandated by law and/or regulation, and a copy of this regulation will be made available to such individuals upon request.