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Atascadero USD |  AR  3542  Business and Noninstructional Operations

School Bus Drivers   

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Students transported in a school bus or in a student activity bus shall be under the authority of, and responsible directly to, the driver of the bus. The driver shall be held responsible for the orderly conduct of the students while they are on the bus or being escorted across a street, highway or road. (5 CCR 14103)

(cf. 3540 - Transportation)

(cf. 5131.1 - Bus Conduct)

Bus drivers shall have the authority to discontinue the operation of school buses whenever the bus driver determines that it is unsafe to continue.

Administrative regulations related to bus driver authority shall be made available to parents/guardians, students, teachers and other interested parties. (5 CCR 14103)

(cf. 5145.6 - Parental Notifications)

This regulation and AR 5131.1 - Bus Conduct shall be made available to parents/guardians, students, teachers, and other interested parties. (5 CCR 14103)

Qualifications, Training and Monitoring

All drivers employed to operate a school bus or a student activity bus shall possess,and shall retain in their immediate possession while operating the school bus, the following documents issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles: (Vehicle Code 12517)

1. Possession of a valid commercial driver's license issued by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the appropriate class of vehicle to be driven endorsed for School Bus and Passenger transportation. Class B - P/S.

2. A current and valid Medical Examination Report (DL - 51).

3. A current and valid California Special Drivers Certificate (DL - 45) issued by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles.

(cf. 3540 - Transportation)

(cf. 3541.1 - Transportation for School-Related Trips)

(cf. 4200 - Classified Personnel)

(cf. 4111/4211/4311 - Recruitment and Selection)

The Department of the California Highway Patrol shall conduct the first aid examination as part of the examination of applicants for a school bus driver's certificate and shall certify to the Department of Motor Vehicles that the applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated his or her qualifications in first aid practices.

All bus drivers shall be required to attend driver training programs mandate by law and shall be familiar with and adhere to district policies and regulations relating to the transportation of students.

The Superintendent or designee may use an electronic fingerprinting system, managed by the California Department of Justice, to fingerprint an applicant for an initial certificate to drive a school bus or student activity bus. (Vehicle Code 12517.3)

(cf. 4212.5 - Criminal Record Check)

When initially applying for or renewing a license or certificate to drive a school bus or student activity bus, and annually upon reaching age 65 years, the driver shall submit to the DMV and to the Superintendent or designee a report of a medical examination conducted in accordance with the timelines and procedures specified in Vehicle Code 12517.2. (Vehicle Code 12517.2; 13 CCR 1234)

The Superintendent or designee shall notify each driver of the expiration date of his/her driver's license, certificate, and medical certificate and shall ensure each document is renewed prior to expiration. (13 CCR 1234)

All school bus accidents shall be reported immediately to the California Highway Patrol. The district and the drivers employer (if other than the district). (13 CCR 1219)

School bus drivers and activity bus drivers shall be subject to drug and alcohol testing in accordance with Board of Trustees policy and the requirements of federal law.

(cf. 4112.42/4212.42/4312.42 - Drug and Alcohol Testing for School Bus Drivers)

The Superintendent or designee shall notify the Department of Motor Vehicles within five days whenever any driver refuses, fails to comply or receives a positive test result on a drug or alcohol test; is dismissed for a cause related to student transportation safety; or is reinstated after being dismissed for a cause related to student transportation safety. (Vehicle Code 1808.8, 13376)

(cf. 4218 - Dismissal/Suspension/Disciplinary Action)


In addition to any other training required to obtain or renew the certificate authorizing operation of a school bus or student activity bus, drivers shall receive training which includes, but is not limited to:

1. First aid practices deemed necessary for school bus drivers, through a course of instruction that prepares drivers to pass the related DMV examination (Vehicle Code 12522)

2. The proper actions to be taken in the event that a school bus is hijacked (Education Code 39831)

3. The proper installation of mobile seating devices in the bus securement systems (Education Code 56195.8)

(cf. 3541.2 - Transportation for Students with Disabilities)

(cf. 4231 - Staff Development)


The school bus driver's major responsibility is to safely transport students to and from school and school activities. He/she shall follow procedures contained in the district's transportation safety plan.

(cf. 3543 - Transportation Safety and Emergencies)

Drivers shall not require any student to leave the bus en route between home and school or other destinations. (5 CCR 14103)

Drivers shall stop to load or unload students only at a school bus stop designated by the Superintendent or designee, or authorized by the Superintendent or designee for school activity trips. (Vehicle Code 22112)

(cf. 3541 - Transportation Routes and Services)

Drivers shall activate the flashing amber light warning system, if the bus is so equipped, beginning 200 feet before any bus stop where students are loading or unloading. They shall operate the flashing red signal lights and stop signal arm at all times when the bus is stopped to load or unload students. The flashing amber warning lights, flashing red signal lights and stop signal arm shall not be operated at any other time, or at any place where traffic is controlled by a traffic officer. (Vehicle Code 22112)

When the bus is stopped on a highway or private road to load or unload students and traffic is not controlled by a traffic officer, the driver shall: (Vehicle Code 22112)

1. Check for approaching traffic in all directions and activate the flashing red light signal system and, if the bus is so equipped, the stop signal arm.

2. Before opening the door, ensure that the flashing red signal lights and stop signal arm are activated and that it is safe to exit the bus.

When the bus is stopped on a highway or private road to load or unload students and traffic is not controlled by a traffic officer or official traffic control system, the driver shall: (Vehicle Code 22112)

1. Escort all students in grades prekindergarten through 12 who need to cross the highway or private road, using an approved hand-held "STOP" sign while so doing.

2. Require all students to walk in front of the bus as they cross the road or highway.

3. Ensure that all students who need to cross the road or highway have crossed safely and that all other unloaded students and pedestrians are a safe distance from the bus before setting the bus in motion.

Except when loading or unloading students at a location where students must cross a highway or private road upon which the bus is stopped, the flashing red signal lights and stop signal arm requirements do not apply at any of the following locations: (Vehicle Code 22112)

1. School bus loading zones on or adjacent to school grounds or during an activity trip, if the school bus is lawfully parked

2. Where the school bus is disabled due to mechanical breakdown

3. Where students require assistance to board or leave the school bus

4. Where the roadway surface on which the bus is stopped is partially or completely covered by snow or ice and requiring traffic to stop would pose a safety hazard

5. On a state highway with a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour or higher where the school bus is completely off the main traveled portion of the highway

6. Any location determined by the Superintendent or designee, with the approval of the California Highway Patrol, to present a traffic or safety hazard

The driver shall not drive a school bus or student activity bus while using a wireless telephone or using a wireless communications device for text-based communication, except when otherwise authorized by law and AR 3543 - Transportation Safety and Emergencies.

Drivers shall immediately report all school bus accidents to the California Highway Patrol, the Superintendent or designee, and the driver's employer. (13 CCR 1219)

School bus drivers also shall report the following to the Superintendent or designee:

1. The condition of the bus at the completion of each work day (13 CCR 1215)

2. His/her duty status for each 24-hour period, including, but not limited to, the number of hours on and off duty (13 CCR 1213)

3. Any traffic accident involving the bus (13 CCR 1219)

In addition to notifying the Superintendent or designee, the driver shall immediately notify the CHP of any traffic accident and, if the bus is operated under contract, his/her employer. (13 CCR 1219)

4. Recurring and serious student misbehavior

5. Parental and student complaints

6. Traffic violations

7. Consistently late school dismissals which cause transportation delays

8. Overload runs

9. Mechanical or other problems with buses and equipment

Vehicle Idling

The driver of a school bus or student activity bus shall: (13 CCR 2480)

1. Turn off the bus engine upon stopping at a school or within 100 feet of a school and not restart the engine more than 30 seconds before beginning to depart

2. Not cause or allow the bus to idle at any location greater than 100 feet from a school for more than five consecutive minutes or for an aggregated period of more than five minutes in any one hour

(cf. 3514 - Environmental Safety)

However, vehicle idling may be allowed under limited conditions, including, but not limited to, occasions when idling is necessary to: (13 CCR 2480)

1. Stop for an official traffic control signal or device, for traffic conditions under which the driver has no control, or at the direction of law enforcement

2. Ascertain that the bus is in safe operating condition and properly equipped

3. Operate equipment designed to safely load, unload, or transport students with disabilities

4. Operate a heater, air conditioner, defroster, or other equipment as necessary to ensure the safety or health of passengers

5. Cool down a turbo-charged diesel engine before turning off the engine

6. Recharge a battery or other energy storage unit of a hybrid electric bus or vehicle

The Superintendent or designee shall notify all drivers, upon employment and at least once per year thereafter, of the requirements specified above and the potential legal and employment consequences of failure to comply. All complaints of noncompliance shall be reviewed and remedial action taken as necessary. The Superintendent or designee shall retain records of the training and of any complaints and enforcement actions for at least three years. (13 CCR 2480)


The Superintendent or designee shall retain records of: (13 CCR 1234)

1. Each driver's duty status and supporting documents provided pursuant to 13 CCR 1201 and 1213. Such records shall be retained for six months and made available to the CHP upon request.

2. The different types of vehicles and vehicle combinations each driver has demonstrated capability to operate.

3. Records of each driver's license, certificate, medical certificate, first aid certificate, and training as specified in 13 CCR 1234.

4. Daily vehicle inspection reports prepared by drivers pursuant to 13 CCR 1215.

(cf. 3580 - District Records)

Legal Reference:


39800.5 Qualifications of driver of 15-passenger van

39830-39842 School buses

40080-40090.5 Training required to obtain or renew bus driver certificate

45125.1 Criminal background checks for contractors

56195.8 Training in installation of mobile seating devices


39640-39642 Vehicle idling, penalties


241.3 Assault against school bus driver

243.3 Battery against school bus driver


415 Definition of motor vehicle

545 Definition of school bus

546 Definition of student activity bus

1808.8 Dismissal for safety-related cause

2570-2574 Contracts with private school bus contractors

12516-12517.4 Certification requirements

12522 First aid training for school bus drivers

13370-13371 Suspension or revocation of bus driver certificate

13376 Driver certificates; revocation or suspension; sex offense prosecution

22112 School bus signals; roadway crossings

23123-23125 Prohibitions against use of wireless telephone and text communications while driving; exceptions

25257-25257.7 School bus equipment

34501.6 School buses; reduced visibility


14103 Authority of the driver

14104 School bus driver instructor


1200-1202.2 Motor carrier safety

1212-1228 School bus driver requirements

1234 Reports regarding school buses and bus drivers

2480 Vehicle idling


40.1-40.413 Transportation drug and alcohol testing programs

382.101-382.605 Controlled substance and alcohol use and testing

571.222 Federal motor vehicle safety standard #222

Management Resources:


California Commercial Driver Handbook


School Bus Driver In-Service Safety Series, October 2011


California Air Resources Board:

California Department of Education, Office of School Transportation:

California Highway Patrol:

California Department of Motor Vehicles:

California Department of Justice:

National Transportation Safety Board:

U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:


approved: April 4, 2000 Atascadero, California

revised: October 10, 2002

revised: April 8, 2014