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Instructor Bulletin 09-29


May 18, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions and Definitions for Vehicle Code Section 545(K) and Assembly Bill 830

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide definitions and answer frequently asked questions regarding implementation of Assembly Bill (AB) 830. This bill amends and/or adds statutes to the California Vehicle Code (VC), Public Utilities Code (PUC), and Education Code (EC), related to the transportation of school pupils to school related activities in vehicles operated by passenger charter party carriers certified by the PUC.

NOTE: Operators of passenger charter party vehicles (limousines) who seek a California Special Driver License endorsed to drive a “schoolbus” or a “school pupil activity bus” (SPAB), in order to comply with the requirements in AB 830 to transport students on school related activities, must comply with Education Code sections 40080 - 40089.

DEFINITIONS (Vehicle Code)
  • Schoolbus:
    545. A "schoolbus" is a motor vehicle designed, used, or maintained for the transportation of any school pupil at or below the 12th-grade level to or from a public or private school or to or from public or private school activities, except the following:
    k) A motor vehicle, other than a motor vehicle described in subdivision (b), that is designed to carry not more than 25 persons including the driver, while being used for the transportation of pupils to or from school-related activities if the vehicle is operated by a passenger charter-party carrier certified and licensed by the Public Utilities Commission pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 5351) of Division 2 of the Public Utilities Code that is not under a contractual agreement with a school or school district, and the transportation does not duplicate schoolbus service or any other transportation services for pupils contracted, arranged, or otherwise provided by the school or school district.

NOTE: Assembly Bill 830 did not assign a name, such as schoolbus or school pupil activity bus, to the vehicle defined in the new subdivision (k) of Vehicle Code section 545. The only description or definition of this vehicle lies within the section itself (545[k] VC).


DEFINITIONS (Education Code)
  • Application of article; “department”:
    40080(a). This article governs the minimum training required for drivers to obtain or renew a certificate described in Section 12517, 12519, or of the Vehicle Code.(b) As used in this article, "department" means the State Department of Education.
  • Authority (Training):
    40081(a). The department shall develop or approve courses for training school pupil activity bus (SPAB), transit bus, schoolbus, and farm labor vehicle drivers that will provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare them for certification pursuant to sections 12517, 12519, and 12804.6 of the Vehicle Code
  • Authority (Instructors):
    40081(b). The department shall train or approve the necessary instructional personnel to conduct the driver training courses. For all schoolbus and school pupil activity bus (SPAB) driver instructor training, the department shall provide for and approve the course outline and lesson plans used in the course...
  • Authority (Course Work):
    40081(c). All courses of study and training activities required by this article shall be approved by the department and given by, or in the presence of, an instructor in possession of a valid school pupil activity bus (SPAB), transit bus, schoolbus, or farm labor vehicle driver instructor certificate of the appropriate class.
  • Original School Bus Driver Training:
    40082(a). An original applicant for a certificate to drive a schoolbus, as defined by Section 545 of the Vehicle Code, shall have successfully completed a minimum 40-hour course of instruction. The course shall include at least 20 hours of classroom instruction in, but not limited to, all units of the Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course. All classroom instruction shall be given by, or in the presence of, a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class. The course shall also include at least 20 hours of applicant behind-the-wheel training in all sections of the Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course. Applicant behind-the-wheel training shall include driving vehicles comparable to those vehicles that will be driven by the applicant to transport pupils. All behind-the-wheel training shall be given by a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class or the delegated behind-the-wheel trainer as designated pursuant to Section 40084.5. An original applicant for a California Special Driver Certificate to drive a schoolbus shall have successfully completed a minimum 40-hour course of instruction. The course shall include at least 20 hours of classroom instruction in, but not limited to, all units of the Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course. All classroom instruction shall be given by, or in the presence of, a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class.

NOTE: The department interprets the Education Code as requiring the curriculum that is taught to either a school bus or SPAB driver, in either an original or renewal setting, as all units of the Department’s Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course. Instructors must teach all the material in each unit appropriate for the type of vehicle (i.e., schoolbus or SPAB). Material must not be deleted for instruction to drivers of 545(k) VC vehicles.

  • Original School Pupil Activity Bus (SPAB) Driver Training:
    40083. An original applicant for a certificate to drive any bus defined by Section 546 or 642 of the Vehicle Code shall have successfully completed a minimum 35-hour course of instruction. The course shall include at least 15 hours of classroom instruction, including, but not limited to, all units of the Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course… All classroom instruction shall be given by, or in the presence of, a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class… The course shall also include at least 20 hours of applicant behind-the-wheel training in all sections of the Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course… Applicant behind-the-wheel training shall include driving vehicles comparable to those vehicles that will be used to transport passengers. All behind-the-wheel training for a certificate to drive a bus defined by Section 546 of the Vehicle Code shall be given by a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class or the delegated behind-the-wheel trainer as designated pursuant to Section 40084.5…

NOTE: The department interprets the Education Code as requiring the curriculum that is taught to either a school bus or SPAB driver, in either an original or renewal setting, as all units of the Department’s Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course. Instructors must teach all the material in each unit appropriate for the type vehicle (i.e., schoolbus or SPAB). Material must not be deleted for instruction to drivers of 545(k) VC vehicles.

Question:

What type of vehicle must be used in the behind-the-wheel training for 545(k) VC vehicle drivers complying with the requirements for a California Special Driver Certificate endorsed to drive a schoolbus or school pupil activity bus (SPAB)?

The California Education Code requires the department, in this reference it is the Department of Education, to develop or approve courses for training, approve the necessary instructional personnel to conduct the driver training courses, and shall provide for and approve the course outline and lesson plans used in the training of school pupil activity bus (SPAB) and schoolbus drivers. In addition, all courses of study and training activities required by this article shall be approved by the department and given by, or in the presence of, an instructor in possession of a valid school pupil activity bus (SPAB) or school bus driver instructor certificate of the appropriate class (40081 EC).

Under this authority the department has developed the Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course containing the mandated instructional material for classroom instruction and the Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course for all behind-the wheel instruction.

In the required behind-the-wheel training outlined in the Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course the Department has designed the instruction to be provided to the trainee in the specific type of vehicle, (i.e., schoolbus or SPAB). The Department has always maintained that although the instruction is applicable to many different types of vehicles, the intent of the legislature in the creation of the training statutes contained in the Education Code are to have the instruction provided in the specific type of vehicle the applicant was seeking to be certified and licensed in. Behind-the-wheel training for schoolbus drivers must be taken in a schoolus, and behind-the-wheel training for a SPAB must be taken in a SPAB. Therefore, a limousine which is not certified by the CHP as a schoolbus or SPAB cannot be used for behind-the-wheel training of schoolbus or SPAB drivers.

In reference to the language in Education Code Section 40082 for schoolbus, and Section 40083 for school pupil activity bus behind-the-wheel instruction, in which it is stated, “Applicant behind-the-wheel training shall include driving vehicles comparable to those vehicles that will be driven by the applicant to transport pupils”, the Department defines this section to mean that in addition to the regular schoolbus or SPAB vehicle in which training is conducted, each instructor or Delegated Behind-the Wheel trainer shall “include” either schoolbuses or SPAB vehicles that are “comparable” to those vehicles that will be driven by the applicant to transport pupils.

The definition of the word include, (“include”, to take in or comprise as a part of a whole: and “compare”, to represent as similar: Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition), as used in the Education Code sections 40082 and 40083, means that the vehicles used in schoolbus and SPAB behind-the-wheel training and are “comparable” are only required as a part or segment of the total behind-the-wheel training given to the applicant during the minimum 20 hours of required behind-the wheel training.

  • Renewal schoolbus or SPAB driver training:
    40085. Applicants seeking to renew a certificate to drive a schoolbus as defined in Section 545 of the Vehicle Code or a school pupil activity bus as defined in Section 546 of the Vehicle Code shall have successfully completed at least 10 hours of original or renewal classroom instruction, or behind-the-wheel or in-service training during each 12 months of certificate validity. In-service training credit may be given by a state-certified driver instructor of the appropriate class to an applicant for attending or participating in appropriate driver training workshops, driver safety meetings, driver safety conferences, and other activities directly related to passenger safety and driver training. During the last 12 months of the special driver certificate validity, the 10 hours required shall consist of classroom instruction covering, but not limited to, current laws and regulations, defensive driving, accident prevention, emergency procedures, and passenger loading and unloading. Failure to successfully complete the required training during any 12-month period of certificate validity is cause for the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel the busdriver certificate.
  • Documentation of driver training:
    40087(a). Except as provided in subdivision (b), driver training required by this chapter shall be properly documented on the State Department of Education Training Certificate T-01, and signed by a state-certified school pupil activity bus (SPAB), transit bus, schoolbus, or farm labor vehicle driver instructor of the appropriate class, and by the driver or applicant. The signatures certify that the instruction was given to, and received by, the applicant or driver, and that the applicant or driver displayed a level of competency necessary to drive the vehicle in a safe and competent manner. The applicant or driver shall present the completed State Department of Education Training Certificate T-01 to the examining state agency when applying for an endorsement or certificate, or, for renewal of an endorsement or certificate.
  • Qualifications to become a school bus or SPAB instructor:
    40088(a). An applicant for a school pupil activity bus (SPAB), transit bus, schoolbus, or farm labor vehicle driver instructor certificate shall successfully complete the appropriate instructor course given or approved by the department.

    (b) An applicant for the course shall possess:

    1. A valid driver's license and endorsement valid for driving the vehicles for which the driver instructor rating is sought.
    2. A certificate or endorsement valid for driving the vehicles for which the driver instructor rating is sought
    3. Five years of experience as a driver in the appropriate vehicle category, or two years experience of that driving experience and three years equivalent experience driving vehicles that require a class A or B driver's license.
    4. A high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) equivalent.
    5. A driving record without chargeable accidents within the past three years preceding the date of application for the instructor certificate.
  • Obtaining Driver Training
    Vehicle Code section 545(k) vehicle (Limousine) operators’ can obtain original or renewal schoolbus or SPAB driver training by contacting a certified and valid schoolbus driver or SPAB driver instructor. Many school districts, private schoolbus contractors and charter bus companies have certified instructors on staff. A review of your local phone book will provide you with necessary contact numbers for these organizations.

    Another good resource for finding certified schoolbus or SPAB instructors is to contact your local California Highway Patrol Office and ask for the schoolbus officer or coordinator, they often know of independent schoolbus or SPAB instructors who provide the required training. Lastly, you may contact the California Livery Association for information on certified schoolbus or SPAB instructors.

NOTE: The required training is not available in an “on-line” training format or available as a “home-study” program. All classroom instruction for schoolbus and school pupil activity bus (SPAB) drivers are required by law to be given by, or in the presence of, a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class and all behind-the-wheel training shall be given by a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class or the delegated behind-the-wheel trainer.

  • 40084.5(a). All behind-the-wheel training required to obtain certificates pursuant to Sections 12517 and 12519 of the Vehicle Code shall be performed by a state-certified instructor or by a delegated behind-the-wheel trainer who has been certified or approved by the department to conduct the required training.
    (b) A "delegated behind-the-wheel trainer" means a person selected to assist a state-certified instructor in the behind-the-wheel training of drivers. Selected persons shall be trained by state-certified instructors and approved by the department before conducting any behind-the-wheel training.
  • Vehicle inspection:
    Contact the California Highway Patrol Division Motor Carrier Safety unit in your area or your local office of the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

    Once regulations are adopted each 545(k) vehicle, to be in compliance, must have a valid CHP inspection form in the 545(k) vehicle’s glove box. This form will need to be available for review by law enforcement personnel or the contracting parent(s).
  • Driver Testing
    To obtain a California Commercial Driver License contact your local office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    To obtain a California Special Driver Certificate endorsed to drive either a school bus or SPAB, contact your local office of the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

Additional information:

The Greater California Livery Association
8726 S Sepulveda Blvd, Suite 2317
Los Angeles, CA 90045-0082
Phone: 866-392-4252
Fax: 310-943-6582
e-mail info@gcla.co

California Highway Patrol
Commercial Vehicle Section
444 N. Third Street, Suite 310
Sacramento, CA 95811
916-445-1865

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Driver License Inquires
Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

California Department of Education
Office of School Transportation
825 Riverside Parkway, Suite 110
West Sacramento, CA 95605
916-375-7100

Questions:   Anna Borges | aborges@cde.ca.gov | 916-375-7100
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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