What Should New York School Administrators Know About Bus Safety Regulations?

May 20, 2024

On September 21, 2023, Farmingdale High School in Long Island was involved in a charter bus accident on Interstate 84 in Wawayanda, a town in Orange County, New York. The accident resulted in numerous students being injured and the loss of two educators. In the wake of the accident, bus safety has remained a paramount concern for both schools and students. The incident underscored the critical importance of bus inspections to ensure the safety of those on board.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires every motor bus to be inspected annually, which is applicable to all states. Unlike many other states, New York State has its own bus inspection program which requires all buses that transport passengers under the age of 21 years old, to and from schools, for hire, or operated by any public or private school to be inspected once every six months, in addition to random inspections.

These inspections take up to 90 minutes and include checking brakes, lighting, tire pressure and durability, along with driver competence. Under the New York bus inspection program, a bus that is placed out of service by the State may only return when the bus undergoes a new inspection and shows the previous concern was addressed and fixed. Additionally, the New York bus inspection program requires NY drivers to provide employers with all motor vehicle violations or a signed statement that the driver has not been convicted of any motor vehicle violation within the last 12 months.

Recently, a New York State bill was proposed to the Senate that would require passengers who are eight years and older to use safety restraints when riding on a charter bus. Failure to do so may result in passengers incurring a $50 civil fine. If the parent or guardian of a child between the ages of eight and 16 is also a passenger of the charter bus, police will be able to issue a summons to that parent or guardian. The bill was prompted by the September 2023 accident and will be voted on by the New York State Transportation Committee.  While the proposed bill is still in its early stages, we will closely monitor the bill’s progress to ensure readers are informed of the latest updates regarding bus regulations.

The New York State bus inspection program plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and reliability of school buses. By implementing rigorous inspection standards, the program identifies and addresses any potential issues with buses. Private schools, which often rely on such transportation services, need to be well-informed about the New York State bus inspection program to ensure that the transportation company schools retain for their transportation needs, actively complies with these rigorous safety standards.



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