Greece school officials are torn with Congressman Morelle’s plan to drop ‘Under the Hood’ requirement

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — Greece Central needs bus drivers. But some school officials are torn with Congressman Joe Morelle’s plan to scratch the “Under The Hood” requirement for new drivers. Waiving “Under the hood” would mean bus drivers looking to get a CDL license won’t have to prove they know the mechanics of the engine. Being able to fix it as well as drive it.

Some Greece school officials say this would speed up the process of training, but it would be a gamble when the driver takes the road test at the DMV.

“It’s either name all the safety components on the perimeter of the bus or lift the hood and name all the engine components,” David Richardson said, the executive director of student operations for Greece Central.

Richardson says those are the two test options a DMV instructor can pick from when you go to take your CDL test to drive a school bus. Morelle has proposed legislation to remove one of those options, Under The Hood”.

“So by removing the engine compartments you’re now going to have that person focus on the exterior of the bus. There are other components that need to be factored in to efficiently have a driver ready for a road test,” Richardson added.

“Under The Hood” means people who want to get a commercial driver’s license have to prove they can repair the engine as well as drive it. Morelle says in the real world, no bus driver would be expected to do that.

“You stay with the children and maintenance people are brought out. My legislation would extend the waiver for a year giving schools a chance to get drivers in the pipeline,” Morelle said.

The other hurdle is training. Six to eight weeks is how long the training is to legally get behind the wheel of a school bus, for an attendant, it’s about up to five weeks.

“100-foot backup, off set parking, parallel parking, crossing pedestrians or students, what to do at a railroad crossing,” Richardson listed off what bus drivers need to know how to do.

New applicants we spoke to during a job fair inside Greece schools say the need is there and they’re up for a challenge.

“I’m sure that there will be challenges, there are always challenges with any new occupation you get involved with so I’m looking forward to those challenges,” Adrianne Youngblood told us.

It’s important to note that in the waiver for “Under The Hood” on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, a portion of it reads:

“FMCSA notes that current Federal regulations do not require a school bus driver to make engine repairs or perform routine maintenance, even though the driver has successfully completed the engine compartment pre-trip inspection component of the CDL skills test. Rather, Congress has determined that the regulatory oversight of school bus operations is a State function, and most States have adopted vehicle maintenance and inspection standards that apply to school bus operations.”