Should There Be Age Limits on School Bus Drivers? - School Bus Accident Attorney Weighs In
I recently reviewed a case where an 81-year-old school bus driver crashed into a light pole while transporting students. It called to question the issue whether there should be age limits for driving school buses and transporting our precious cargo.
While I recognize that policies restricting the age of drivers smacks of potential discrimination and may be unfair to older people who want to stay active, the increased number of recent school bus accidents discloses that many safety features, practices, and age limitations are being largely ignored.
Surprisingly many states don’t even require a medical examination. Seventeen states permit school buses to be driven by 16 to 17 year olds, fourteen states set the minimum age limit at 18 through 20, nineteen states require that school bus drivers be at least 21, and thirty-five states set no maximum age limits for driving a school bus. In eleven states, 65 is the upper limit and in four others 70 is the upper age limit. The statistics reveal that elderly drivers are more likely than other drivers to receive traffic citations for failing to yield, turning improperly, running red lights, failing to stop at stop signs, as well as other indications of decreased driving ability. It is a fact that older adults are at higher risk for car accidents than other age groups. Older drivers are more likely to get into multiple vehicle accidents than younger people and generally, these accidents are more dangerous for them than similar accidents are for younger drivers. Statistics also reveal that fatal crash rates rise sharply after a driver has reached the age of 70.
While driver safety is an important and sensitive issue for seniors, the changes of normal aging often interfere with the ability to drive safely. When transporting school students on school buses, safety must come first. Since many states have separate age requirement and safety requirements, I think that in view of the recent stream of school bus accidents, the federal government must develop uniform safety standards for the design of school buses, as well as age and safety requirements of the operation of this essential public service which involves transportation of our precious cargo.