Finding good school bus drivers is a challenge in normal times, and it is even harder today. To help fill staffing gaps, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently declared that states can waive the “under the hood” portion of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) testing requirement for a limited time.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has extended the waiver offering through September 30, 2022. The DPS encourages schools to make sure drivers understand waiver limitations explained in this article before they apply.
Which test components are excluded?
During that time, the engine compartment components of the pre-trip vehicle inspection skills test for drivers seeking the School Bus (S) and Passenger (P) endorsements will not be required if the applicant receives the waiver.
Components that will be excluded from the pre-trip skills test are: oil level, coolant level, power steering system, water pump system, alternator system, air compressor system, hydraulic master cylinder (as applicable), and leaks and hoses.
- All other aspects of the CDL skills test and license process remain in place
- CDL applicants who get the waiver will be restricted to only driving a school bus inside Texas state lines (no interstate field trips).
- Waiver recipients who later decide to drive other commercial vehicles will be required to take a full skills test to remove the school bus only and intrastate restrictions.
- An applicant who already holds a Class A or B CDL but needs to add the S and P endorsements can also use the waiver. However, applicants must understand that if they use the waiver, they are agreeing to the above restrictions on their CDL. All other CDL privileges will be removed with this waiver.
- Applicants must schedule an online appointment for the skills test and specify during the transaction process at the driver’s license office if they choose to use the waiver. The waiver will expire on June 30, 2022, so all applicants must complete the skills test before then.
Get more information
If you have questions, contact DPS’ Christie Hebert in the School Bus Transportation Program at Christie.Hebert@dps.texas.gov or 512.424.7396.
About the author
As a "boots on the ground" risk solutions consultant, Charles Hueter travels the state helping Fund members in ESC Regions 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, and 20 identify and manage risk. Make Charles your first call for hazard surveys, consultations, and tailored loss prevention service plans.