Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, motorcoach drivers in Illinois must have a school bus drivers license before they can transport children on school-sponsored trips, reported the United Motorcoach Association (UMA).
"I believe it is essential to send a strong message to schools and the transportation industry that our children's safety is of utomost importance," said Governor George Ryan on his signing of the new law.
One provision of the new law requires drivers to get a physical exam and have the examining doctor complete the state's medical form.
According to the UMA, Ryan is sending a mixed message.
Although the state permits individuals with Type 1 diabetes to operate a school bus if the examining physician is satisfied the condition is under control, federal regulations prohibit such individuals from operating a motorcoach.
Illinois operators now have to make sure their drivers have both a CDL and a state school bus license, which requires drivers to obtain FBI fingerprinting background check, complete a six-to eight-hour training course, take an annual three-hour refresher and get the physical, said the UMA.
Coach operators are also required to fulfill written and driving tests. Operators must rent or lease a school bus for training and testing if one is not already owned.
The UMA has been told that out-of-state operators are being informed they will also have to comply with Illinois' new law.
If Illinois attempts to require out-of-state carrier compliance, the UMA said it stands ready to ask the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration general counsel to issue a cease-and-desist order.