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Massapequa Observer - Schools

Senate: Criminal Checks On Bus Drivers

The New York State Senate has passed legislation to require all bus drivers submit to a criminal history check, Senator Charles Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) has announced.

“Every time someone rides a bus, they are entrusting their lives and safety to the bus driver,” Fuschillo said. “ When the stakes are that high, it is unacceptable to just assume that everyone claiming to be qualified to handle that responsibility actually is.”

The legislation, sponsored by Fuschillo, chairman of the Senate’s transportation committee, is designed to prevent bus drivers from using aliases to hide criminal histories when applying for a driver’s license.

Under existing law, this requirement applies only to school bus drivers.

Numerous incidents in recent years have focused attention on the issue of background checks for bus drivers.

 For example, on March 12, 2011, a tour bus returning to New York City from a Connecticut casino crashed in the Bronx, killing 15 people. The bus driver reportedly had prior convictions for manslaughter, grand larceny, and driving without a license.

His license was suspended following the crash after evidence surfaced that he made false statements on his application form.

Since 2011, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles’  investigations have led to the arrest of at least 27 commercial bus drivers for using fraudulent documents to obtain a valid commercial driver license under an alias.