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During Mid-Michigan driver shortage, new rules could make it longer to train new bus drivers

Federal requirements took effect Monday
During Mid-Michigan driver shortage, new rules could make it longer to train new bus drivers
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 4:55 PM EST
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WILLAMSTON, Mich. (WILX) - School districts are expecting the bus driver shortage to get worse before it gets better.

That’s because the federal government has new rules for people to get the commercial driver’s license needed to get behind the wheel.

“Even if we were to get new interested drivers, the amount of time this is going to take, it’s not going to contribute to a timely solution,” said Adam Spina, Williamston Community Schools Superintendent.

Spina is desperately looking for bus drivers. Some routes are even being canceled because they don’t have enough drivers.

Starting Monday, the federal government is requiring anyone looking to get a commercial driver’s license for the first time to take a class before they get their license.

“That’s going to extend what is already a lengthy process to get a bus driver, trained, licensed, road-tested, and then out on the road transporting students,” said Spina.

This is the first time the federal government is setting minimum requirements for CDL holders. Before, drivers only needed enough training to comfortably pass the state licensing tests.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told News 10 the idea behind the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule isn’t to make it harder.

“Our goal is to promote the safety of all drivers across our nation’s highways. We believe ELDT regulations will help enhance the safety,” said Joshua Jones, ELDT program director.

Spina said he’s not trying to sacrifice student safety but feels the government shouldn’t make it harder for people to become bus drivers.

“We do additional training with our drivers. So road tests type of things. We had on to the training that’s already done,” said Spina.

The new rules apply to anyone looking to get a class-a or class-b commercial driver’s license for the first time. They also are in effect for people looking to drive a bus or haul hazardous materials.

School districts will still be helping drivers get their licenses if they still want to drive the bus. Just contact your local school district. Some are even offering signing bonuses.

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