Auditor concerned about smaller school transport vehiclesby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A new Legislative Auditor's report says kids are about eight times safer on a Minnesota school bus than they are in a car. But the report points out some safety concerns as well.
The 10-month study was released at the Capitol Tuesday morning. It focused in particular on drivers of small vehicles, like cars and vans.
People who drive fewer than 10 students may only need a valid drivers license without background checks or drug screening.
The issue came to public attention last May, when a driver for a private student transportation company rear-ended a Forest Lake school bus. A 14-year-old student died, as well as the driver. Tests showed the driver had been smoking marijuana before the crash.
State Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said it was a tragic example.
"Here's a great case where this driver had not been given the same scrutiny. And had they had the expectation to do that, you might have prevented that driver from being on the road," said Hann. "The thing for me is to not lose sight of the fact that we have a very safe system, that we want to do some things in legislation that will target this area where there is an opportunity for improvement."
The auditor's report also suggested better followup on buses that fail routine inspections.