The Plymouth School Board is taking an additional step to help ensure the safety of students while riding on school busses. At the September 6 meeting of the Board, they heard a newly proposed policy listed as Bus Drivers and Cellular Telephone Use.
Both federal and state laws prohibit texting, emailing, and using telecommunication devices while driving commercial motor vehicles. Specifics in the state law prohibits typing a text message or electronic mail message; transmitting a text or electronic message; or reading such messages while driving unless the device is used in conjunction with a hands free or voice operated technology.
Devices could be used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.
The Board policy states the following: “In cases of a bona fide emergency, bus drivers should move to the side of the road and stop the vehicle before using the cellular telephone, electronic device, mobile telephone or telecommunication device.” Additional wording states that a corporation employee who violates the policy shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
After the meeting, Board Attorney Jeff Houin explained that although he did not write the proposed policy, there are reasons that boards would want to adopt it. Houin said, “Prohibiting texting and driving in the School Board policy makes it clear that the school corporation can discipline bus drivers internally, in addition to any legal consequences they may face.”
The proposed policy would also prohibit any corporation employee who operates a motor vehicle other than a school bus to transport Corporation students from using a cellular telephone, electronic device, mobile telephone, or telecommunication device while transporting students.
The Board heard the proposed policy on first reading and will have to approve or deny adopting after two additional readings.
Carol Anders Correspondent