Safety and OSHA News

Fatal bus crash prompts policy change

School districts and private bus contractors in Pennsylvania will now get a summary of a school bus driver’s entire driving history. The change follows a recent fatal school bus crash.

The employers will now receive a one-word description of the severity of every reported crash a bus driver applicant has had. The three word choices are fatal, injury or property, depending on whether the driver caused a death, injury or property damage.

Pennsylvania is making the change, effective in October, after receiving pressure from two state representatives in the wake of the case involving bus driver Frederick Poust III.

Poust faces vehicular homicide charges and 46 counts of reckless endangerment. Police say Poust didn’t stop before turning left into a middle school complex in suburban Philadelphia, and drove directly into the path of a car. The car’s passenger was killed and its driver was seriously injured. Investigators say he’d been talking on his cell phone and listening to music on an MP3 player before, but not at the time of, the crash.

In 1999, Poust was cited with careless driving and a stop sign violation. He was dialing his cell phone when he ran a stop sign and broad-sided another car. A two-year-old girl was killed in the crash. Poust’s punishment: a $50 fine.

His employer, Student Transportation of America, said it checked his driving record, but it didn’t reveal his 1999 crash.

That’s because the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation only releases driving records for the previous ten years for a bus driver applicant.

That’s going to change. Starting in October, school districts and private transportation companies will receive a list of all of an applicant’s reported crashes.

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