School Bus Drivers’ Testing Deadline Extended
HELENA – Officials with the state’s Motor Vehicle Division said Thursday that some recent changes to federal regulations give Montana school bus drivers extra time to take mandatory tests.
Federal motor-carrier safety regulations require school bus drivers to take a driving test in a school bus and take a written test. The regulations were passed in 1999, and they set a deadline of September 30, 2005 to get drivers properly tested and licensed.
MVD Administrator Dean Roberts said MVD staff members have been scrambling to meet the deadline, testing drivers around the state. Montana has about 3,600 school bus drivers, Roberts said, and about half of those have completed the tests.
However, a provision extending the deadline an extra year – to September 30, 2006 – was tucked into the massive highway bill signed by the president earlier this month.
“We are pleased that the deadline is extended,” Roberts said, “but at the same time, we encourage drivers to complete their testing as soon as possible.”
And he noted that a small number of drivers will benefit from the extra 12 months. The federal regulations waive the skills test if the driver has at least two years of school bus-driving experience immediately prior to the September 2006 deadline.
“Some drivers, for example, will reach that two-year mark between now and next September,” Roberts said. “For those people, waiting a few months may mean they’re exempt from taking the skills test.”
School bus drivers with questions about their status, or about dates and times of written and skills tests should contact the Motor Vehicle Division at (406) 444-3292.