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Are You Required to Have a CDL to Drive a School Bus in Texas?

School bus drivers in Texas are required to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL) before they can transport passengers on these vehicles. However, there is some confusion about what type of CDL bus drivers actually need. In this state, school bus drivers need a Class B commercial driver’s license. Here, we want to examine the difference between the classes of CDLs and discuss the process prospective school bus drivers must go through before they are allowed to transport passengers.

Understanding the Different Classes of CDLs

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Texas is categorized into three main classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C.

These classifications depend on the vehicle’s weight and the type of cargo. For school bus drivers, a Class B CDL is required. This classification is necessary for vehicles that weigh more than 26,001 pounds and are towing trailers or vehicles not heavier than 10,000 pounds. Since school buses fit into this category, drivers must obtain a Class B CDL.

The Necessity of Specific Endorsements

Beyond the Class B CDL, school bus drivers in Texas must acquire specific endorsements on their licenses. These endorsements are additional qualifications that prove the driver’s ability to handle specific vehicle types or cargo. For school bus drivers, the following endorsements are needed:

  • Passenger (P) endorsement. This is required for drivers of vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver. It ensures the driver can safely manage a large number of passengers, which is typical of a school bus setting.
  • School Bus (S) endorsement. Specific to school bus drivers, this endorsement confirms that the driver has met the additional knowledge and skills necessary to safely transport students.

The Process to Obtain a CDL and Endorsements for School Bus Drivers

Prospective school bus drivers must go through a multi-step process to acquire their CDL and the necessary endorsements. This process includes:

  • Passing knowledge tests. Drivers must pass several written tests on general CDL knowledge, passenger transport, and school bus-specific knowledge.
  • Skills test. After passing the knowledge tests, drivers must also pass a skills test in a school bus. This test includes a pre-trip vehicle inspection, a basic control skills test, and a road test.
  • Background checks and additional requirements. Given the responsibility of transporting children, school bus drivers are also subject to background checks, including a check of their driving record and a criminal history check. Additionally, they must complete a physical examination and drug and alcohol testing.

Will This Matter During an Injury Claim?

Driving a school bus is a major responsibility that goes beyond simply having the correct driver’s license. Drivers must have the correct license with specific endorsements to ensure they are able to safely transport students. Unfortunately, injuries can occur as a result of the careless or negligent actions of a school bus driver or a school district. If an injury claim occurs due to the negligent actions of a bus driver, there will likely be an extensive investigation into the incident to determine whether or not the driver has the correct qualifications to operate the school bus, including the correct license and endorsements. A truck accident lawyer in Houston may be able to help after a collision involving a large vehicle.

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