Is the bus driver that was hired by a private summer camp in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania required to undergo criminal and driver background checks? The answer is no. A recent CBS News Investigation found little or no oversight or regulations of bus drivers for camps and other private functions. In Pennsylvania, only bus drivers who are employed by a public or private school district are subject to background checks. The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires school bus drivers to undergo a Federal background check and a child abuse history check by the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare. However, no such regulations exist for bus drivers employed by private camps or other private companies providing transportation.
However, according to Edith Pearce, a prominent bus accident lawyer in Philadelphia, “Bus drivers who drive for a private camp or other company are not required by law to undergo background checks.” Rather, a bus driver for a private company in Pennsylvania simply needs to obtain a commercial drivers license or CDL, and background checks are not part of that licensing process.
The CBS News Investigation found on average that once a week a bus driver is arrested fro DUI or child pornography. The CBS Investigation interviewed a New York family who reported their special needs daughter being sexually harassed and even abused by a bus driver. As it turned out, the bus driver had been arrested a year before on suspicion of child abuse but was allowed to keep his job.
Edith Pearce, the founder of The Pearce Law Firm located in Philadelphia represents victims and children involved in injuries and accidents often arising out of bus or automobile accidents. According to Attorney Pearce, “if a bus driver simply drives within the state of Pennsylvania for a private company and does not cross state lines, federal standards and regulations may not apply.” As mentioned in the CBS News investigation, this means the truck driver who delivers fruits, vegetables, or electronics across state lines is subject to much greater safety regulations than the bus driver who drives your kid to summer camp.
Attorney Edith Pearce recommends that parents check with the private camp before a bus accident or other incident or injury happens to your child. According to Pearce, “Parents should check with the private camp and ask if they require their bus drivers to undergo background checks regarding their driving history and also child abuse history. This is especially true if the camp is using bus drivers who do not drive for school districts during the school year.” If they are not making their bus drivers undergo background checks, perhaps you should think twice about sending your child to that camp. In the meantime, you can even check out websites such as familywatchdog.us to find registered sex offenders in your area to make sure they are not your kids’ bus driver. Also, parents should get together as a group and insist that the private camp begin implementing background checks. If you can get together several parents to demand this, a camp is much more likely to listen.
If you or your child has been injured as a result of a bus drivers’ behavior or negligence, feel free to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. We are experienced personal injury attorneys in Philadelphia, the surrounding suburbs, and New Jersey.