BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          SB 1072           Hearing Date:    4/5/2016
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          |Author:   |Mendoza                                               |
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          |Version:  |3/28/2016    Amended                                  |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant|Randy Chinn                                           |
          |:         |                                                      |
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          SUBJECT:  Schoolbus safety: child safety alarm system


            DIGEST:  This bill deals with the problem of pupils left  
          unattended in school buses by 1) requiring the installation of a  
          child safety alarm system which forces the bus driver to walk to  
          the rear of the bus before exiting, 2) requiring the  
          establishment of procedures to ensure that pupils aren't left  
          unattended, and 3) establishing a process for reporting  
          incidents of unattended pupils and authorizing the Department of  
          Motor Vehicles (DMV) to revoke or suspend the school bus driving  
          authority of the driver.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:

          1)Requires school officials to develop transportation safety  
            plans

          2)Requires enhanced certification to become a school bus driver

          3)Authorizes the DMV to refuse to issue or renew such  
            certification if certain specified crimes or misconduct has  
            occurred

          4)Requires specialized equipment in school buses such as seat  
            belts and external lighting systems

          This bill:







          SB 1072 (Mendoza)                                  Page 2 of ?
          
          

          1)Requires public and private school officials, as defined, to  
            establish procedures to ensure that pupils are not left  
            unattended on school buses

          2)Requires public and private school officials, as defined, to  
            notify the DMV if a school bus driver leaves a pupil  
            unattended on a school bus
          3)Requires that school bus drivers be instructed on how to  
            ensure that pupils are not left unattended

          4)Authorizes the DMV to refuse to issue or renew the school bus  
            driver certificate if the driver has left a pupil unattended  
            on a school bus

          5)Requires school buses to be equipped, by the 2018-19 school  
            year, with child safety alarm systems which force drivers to  
            manually disarm an alarm at the rear of the bus before exiting  
            the bus

          6)Requires, by January 1, 2018, the California Highway Patrol  
            (CHP) to adopt regulations for child safety alarm systems

          COMMENTS:

          Purpose.  The author notes that in California there have been  
          several cases where children were left on school buses  
          unattended and found hours later.  In a particularly tragic case  
          last year, a special-needs student in Los Angeles died after  
          being left alone on a bus for many hours.  This bill seeks to  
          prevent children being left unattended on buses by requiring  
          drivers walk the length of the bus to deactivate an alarm system  
          before leaving.  It also strengthens driver protocols and  
          training and provides the DMV the authority to suspend the bus  
          driver's certificate to drive the bus.

          The problem.  While it may be hard to imagine how a child could  
          be left alone on a school bus, the author has identified eight  
          instances since 2012.  Those students ranged in age from 2 to 19  
          years old; all were either special needs or autistic.  Neither  
          the CHP nor the DMV keep records of these types of accidents, so  
          it is difficult to judge the pervasiveness of the problem.

          Alarm system.  The author believes that making the bus driver  
          walk through the bus will address the problem.  The alarm system  








          SB 1072 (Mendoza)                                  Page 3 of ?
          
          
          required by this bill has a switch located at the rear of the  
          bus.  At the end of the trip the driver has walk through the bus  
          to physically flip the switch before exiting the bus to prevent  
          an alarm from sounding.  These devices are made by several  
          manufacturers and have been deployed by the Los Angeles Unified  
          School District.  According to the author, the District spent  
          $194,000 to equip all 1,300 of their buses.  
          
          School bus driver certificates.  In addition to a driver's  
          license, school bus drivers must also obtain a certificate to  
          operate the bus.  This requires the driver to, among other  
          things, pass a medical exam, submit fingerprints, pass a  
          first-aid exam, meet with the CHP bus coordinator, and take an  
          on-road driving exam.  The certificate is revocable if the bus  
          driver misbehaves.  The DMV must revoke the certificate if the  
          driver has been convicted of a sex offense, as specified, or a  
          violent felony.  In addition, the DMV may revoke the certificate  
          if the driver has been convicted of other less serious crimes.   
          This bill authorizes the DMV to revoke the certificate if the  
          driver has left a student unattended on a school bus.

          Other buses.  In addition to school buses, this bill also deals  
          with School Pupil Activity Buses (SPABs).  These are typically  
          chartered buses which take students to and from school  
          activities, such as sporting events.  SPABs are required to have  
          parents or parent representatives (e.g., school officials)  
          present at the beginning and end of the trip.  SPABs tend to  
          have on-board chaperones.  The California Bus Association  
          believes that this provides assurance that students are not left  
          on the buses, and that therefore the requirement for an alarm  
          system is unnecessary for SPABs.  

          DMV needs guidance.  This bill requires that an official with  
          the school district or the private school owner or operator  
          notify the DMV within five calendar days of discovering that a  
          student was left unattended.  The mechanics of this notification  
          (e.g., who at the DMV, the form of notification, specific  
          details in the notice) are not specified.  To fix this, on Page  
          3, line 26, after "Vehicles", the author and committee may wish  
          to consider inserting the following:

          "in a form and manner that it specifies,"

          Technical amendment.  The author wishes to add an amendment  
          naming the provisions in this bill the "Paul Lee School Bus  








          SB 1072 (Mendoza)                                  Page 4 of ?
          
          
          Safety Law".  The committee may wish to consider adopting this  
          amendment.
          
          Double-referral.  This bill has also been referred to the Senate  
          Education Committee.

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  Yes


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          March 30, 2016.)
          
            SUPPORT:  

          State Council on Developmental Disabilities (sponsor)
          American Academy of Pediatrics
          The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration
          Autism Speaks
          California School Nurses Organization
          Center for Autism and Related Disorders
          Los Angeles Unified School District
          18 individuals

          OPPOSITION:

          None reported
                                      -- END --