BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    SB 1072


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          Date of Hearing:  June 22, 2016


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION


                              Patrick O'Donnell, Chair


          SB  
          1072 (Mendoza) - As Amended April 7, 2016


          [This bill was double referred to the Assembly Committee on  
          Transportation and was heard by the committee as it related to  
          issues under its jurisdiction.]


          SENATE VOTE:  35-0


          SUBJECT:  Schoolbus safety:  child safety alarm system


          SUMMARY:  Requires, on or before the beginning of the 2018-19  
          school year, every schoolbus, school pupil activity bus (SPAB),  
          and youth bus be equipped with a "child safety alarm system;"  
          imposes additional requirements on school districts to ensure  
          that a pupil is not left unattended on a bus.    Specifically,  
          this bill:  


          1)Requires a school district's transportation plan to include  
            procedures to ensure that a pupil is not left unattended on a  
            schoolbus, SPAB, or youth bus.


          2)Requires the county superintendent of schools, the  
            superintendent of a school district, or the owner or operator  








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            of a private school that provides transportation to or from a  
            school or school activity to notify the Department of Motor  
            Vehicles (DMV) within five calendar days of discovery that a  
            driver of a schoolbus, SPAB, or youth bus has left the vehicle  
            with an unsupervised pupil onboard.


          3)Provides that being reported as leaving a pupil unsupervised  
            onboard a schoolbus, SPAB, or youth bus is grounds for the  
            refusal to issue or revocation of a schoolbus, SPAB, or youth  
            bus driver certificate.


          4)Requires the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP)  
            to adopt, by January 1, 2018, regulations governing the  
            specifications, installation, and use of child safety alarm  
            systems.


          5)Requires, on or before the beginning of the 2018-19 school  
            year, each schoolbus, SPAB, and youth bus shall be equipped  
            with an operational child safety alarm system.


          6)Defines "child safety alarm system" as a device located at the  
            interior rear of a vehicle that requires the driver to  
            manually contact the device before exiting the vehicle,  
            thereby prompting the driver to inspect the entirety of the  
            interior of the vehicle before exiting.


          EXISTING LAW:   


          1)Defines "schoolbus" as any motor vehicle, other than a SPAB,  
            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.








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          2)Defines "student pupil activity bus" as any motor vehicle,  
            other than a schoolbus, operated by a common carrier, or by  
            and under the exclusive jurisdiction of a publicly owned or  
            operated transit system, or by a passenger charter-party  
            carrier, used under a contractual agreement between a school  
            and carrier to transport school pupils at or below the  
            12th-grade level to or from a public or private school  
            activity, or used to transport pupils to or from residential  
            schools, when the pupils are received and discharged at  
            off-highway locations where a parent or adult designated by  
            the parent is present to accept the pupil or place the pupil  
            on the bus.


          3)Defines "charter-party carrier of passengers" (CPC) as a  
            person engaged in the transportation of persons by motor  
            vehicle for compensation over any public highway.


          4)Requires the county superintendent of schools, the  
            superintendent of a school district, or the owner or operator  
            of a private school that provides transportation to or from a  
            school or school activity, to prepare a transportation safety  
            plan containing procedures for school personnel to follow to  
            ensure the safe transport of pupils, as specified.


          5)Authorizes the governing board of a school district to  
            contract for the transportation of pupils attending schools  
            within the district to and from any exposition or fair, school  
            activities, or other activities that the governing board  
            determines to be for the benefit of the pupils, in this state,  
            and may pay for the transportation out of any funds of the  
            district available for the purpose.


          6)Prohibits a person from operating a schoolbus or SPAB without  








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            proper certification issued by DMV and requires any person  
            seeking to renew a certificate to drive a schoolbus or SPAB to  
            have successfully completed at least 10 hours of original or  
            renewal classroom instruction or behind-the-wheel or  
            in-service training every 12 months.


          7)Authorizes DMV to refuse to issue or to revoke a schoolbus,  
            SPAB, or youth bus driver certificate, or a certificate for a  
            vehicle used for the transportation of developmentally  
            disabled persons, for specified causes.


          8)Requires specialized equipment in schoolbuses such as seat  
            belts and external lighting systems.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:  According to the author, there have been at least  
          eight instances of children being left alone and unsupervised on  
          schoolbuses for hours at a time in California.  In one  
          particular incident in 2015, a 19 year-old special-needs pupil  
          passed away after being left alone on a hot schoolbus for  
          several hours at the end of a home-to-school trip in Whittier.


          The author states that SB 1072 would protect children getting to  
          and from school by establishing safe pupil transportation  
          procedures to help prevent children from being left on school  
          buses unattended.  These procedures include the installation of  
          child safety alarm systems on vehicles that transport children.


          These systems tie directly into a vehicle's electrical and  
          computer systems to trigger the alarm system of the vehicle when  
          the ignition is disengaged.  The driver of the vehicle must then  
          walk to the back of the bus to manually disarm the alarm,  








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          prompting the driver to check the vehicle for children.   
          According to the author, the Los Angeles Unified School District  
          installed these systems on its fleet of 1,300 schoolbuses at a  
          cost of $194,000, or approximately $150 per bus.  The costs of  
          these systems vary based on the vendor and the complexity of the  
          system and the electrical and computer systems of the vehicles  
          in which they are installed.  Similar alarm systems are required  
          in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin.


          In addition to the alarm system requirement, this bill adds  
          leaving a pupil unattended on a bus to the causes for which DMV  
          may refuse to issue or may revoke a schoolbus or SPAB driver  
          certificate.  In order to be issued a bus driver certificate, a  
          driver must hold a driver's license and pass a medical exam,  
          submit fingerprints, pass a first-aid exam, meet with the CHP  
          bus coordinator, and take an on-road driving exam.  Currently,  
          that certificate can be revoked on grounds such as a violent  
          felony conviction or a sex offense.  Under this bill, a school  
          district would be required to report when a driver leaves a  
          pupil unattended on a bus to DMV.


          SB 1072 also requires school districts to include procedures for  
          school personnel to follow to ensure that a pupil is not left  
          unattended on a bus in the district's transportation safety plan  
          required under current law.


          Schoolbuses vs. motorcoaches.  In addition to requiring the  
          installation of child safety alarm systems in schoolbuses, this  
          bill requires their installation in SPABs.  While schoolbuses  
          are required to have specific design elements, such as a rear  
          exit door, and are most commonly used for home-to-school trips,  
          SPABs are often motorcoaches operated by a CPC contracted by a  
          school district for a specific purpose, such as a field trip or  
          transportation to a sporting event.  These motorcoaches often do  
          not function exclusively as SPABs; for example, they may  
          transport pupils in the morning for a field trip under a  








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          contract with a school district, adults in the afternoon for a  
          business meeting under contract with a corporation, and seniors  
          in the evening for a trip to a casino under contract with a  
          retirement facility.


          While the experiences of the Los Angeles Unified School District  
          suggests the installation of these devices may not be  
          cost-prohibitive, schoolbuses - the vehicles in the district's  
          example - generally have electrical and computer systems that  
          are easily modified to allow for the installation of a device  
          such as a child safety alarm system, due to the electrical  
          wiring located in the rear of the vehicle associated with the  
          exit door.  Motorcoaches, operating as SPABs, generally have  
          different design requirements and more complex electrical and  
          computer systems that are not designed to be modified or  
          hardwired with an external alarm system.  According to the  
          California Bus Association, its members estimate the cost per  
          bus to retrofit a vehicle's electrical and computer systems to  
          accommodate an external alarm system at $7,000.  CHP estimates  
          the number of motorcoaches operated by commercial carriers in  
          California at approximately 13,000.  While not all these  
          vehicles function as SPABs and the cost would likely fluctuate  
          from vehicle to vehicle, the true cost of retrofitting the  
          state's CPC bus fleet could be considerable.  The author's  
          office has provided committee staff with a list of eight  
          commercial carriers that they say have already installed an  
          alarm system as evidence that it is not cost prohibitive.   
          However, each of these carriers has provided information that  
          they have not installed an alarm system on motorcoaches.  


          Arguments in support.  Supporters argue that student safety is a  
          top priority and that an alarm system is an effective tool, when  
          combined with conscientious driver safety checks, to safeguard  
          the transport of students.  They also argue that an alarm system  
          is a simple, low cost preventive measure that can save lives,  
          especially among students with intellectual and developmental  
          disabilities.








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          Arguments in opposition.  Opponents argue that an alarm system  
          is not needed on commercially operated motorcoaches,  
          because-unlike on schoolbuses-there is always an adult chaperone  
          on board.  They have asked for an amendment that would exempt  
          SPABs from the alarm requirement for buses if both of the  
          following conditions are met:


                 The bus is not used exclusively to transport pupils; and


                 If the pupils are accompanied by a chaperone designated  
               by a school official.


          Opponents argue that these conditions would ensure pupil safety  
          and state that there has never been a case of a pupil being left  
          behind on a motorcoach due to the presence of chaperones.   
          However, the author's office has provided committee staff with a  
          newspaper report of a motorcoach in Florida pulling away from  
          the drop-off point with a special education pupil aboard before  
          the chaperone had finished the head count.  The author rejected  
          these amendments when the bill was heard in the Transportation  
          Committee.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California State Council on Developmental Disabilities










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          Los Angeles Unified School District


          3 individuals




          Opposition


          All West Coach Lines


          Amador State Lines


          Antelope Valley Airport Express, Inc.


          California Association of School Business Officials


          California Bus Association


          Discovery Luxury Motorcoach Charters


          Fast Deer Bus Charter, Inc.


          Goldfield Stage


          H & L Charter Co., Inc.


          Lin Lines








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          Loop Transportation, Inc.


          Orange Belt Stages


          Pacific Coachways


          Pacific Monarch Bus Charter


          Preferred Charters


          Royal Coach Tours


          San Jose Charters


          Sun Diego Charter Co.


          Southern California Gray Line


          Sundance Stagelines, Inc.


          Via Trailways


          1 individual











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          Analysis Prepared by:Rick Pratt / ED. / (916)  
          319-2087