Be a responsible parent this year. Know about SPAB (School Pupil Activity Bus) before booking your teenagers prom limousine or party bus. The California Highway Patrol will be cracking down hard this year, more so
than other years in the past in regards to non-certified drivers transporting teenagers to high school proms.
Many operators argue about a “grey area” around this subject; however Ron Mack, Motor Carrier Specialist of the California Highway Patrol says differently, “It’s simple. If you are transporting 12th graders or below for a school function, like prom, winter formal, etc., then you are required to have a SPAB (School Pupil Activity Bus) Certified Driver and a CHP Certified Vehicle. If you don’t, you are taking a big chance not only in having your vehicle impounded and the children’s parents finding an alternate means of transportation to get back home, but the driver and or operator may face legal charges as well, regardless whether the function was held at a school or a hotel.”
Some parents have asked when booking their child’s high school prom party bus reservation, “Why haven’t I heard about this before?” As a compliant limousine operator, Roman Worldwide doesn’t have a great answer. Furthermore, we don’t understand why it has not been headlined in the past. It seems like we don’t hear about law regulating matters until there is a problem with a carrier or even worse, until an accident involving children as passengers in a limousine or party bus occurs. Below are statements directly from the California Public Utility Commission CPUC regarding matters on SPAB.
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
SCHOOL PUPIL TRANSPORTATION DECLARATION FORM
Transporting pupils at or below the 12th grade level may require that your vehicle(s) and your driver(s) meet special licensing and certification requirements. Even if the transportation has not been arranged with a school, the transportation may still require special vehicle and driver certification if the transportation performed is to or from a school or school-related activity. The definitions for school and school-related activity are broad and could put your company in violation of the laws if transportation is conducted without the proper certifications. Prior to conducting any school pupil transportation, review the applicable laws and ensure that your vehicles and drivers have the necessary certifications and endorsements. If you have questions regarding the transportation, please contact the California Highway Patrol who can assist you to understand the requirements of the laws.
State Legislation passed in 2009 added Section 5387(c) to the Public Utilities Code effective January 1, 2010. Section 5378(c) provides that the Commission shall permanently revoke the charter-party carrier certificate or permit of a carrier which commits any of six violations named in paragraph (1) of the section. One of the violations is:
(E) Knowingly employs a bus driver who does not have a current and valid driver’s license of the proper class, a passenger vehicle endorsement, or the required certificate to drive a bus.
California Vehicle Code Section 545 defines a “schoolbus” as 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, unless it meets of the exceptions stated in the section.”
School related activities are identified in the California Education Code, Section 35330(1), as field trips or excursions in connection with courses of instruction or school-related social, educational, cultural, athletic, or school band activities to and from places in the state. Additionally, Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations, Defines school-related activities, as events “in which the employee’s child is participating, including, but not limited to, plays, graduations, field trips, organized sports events, recitals, Scouts, 4-H, Junior Achievement and Grange”
If you are unsure whether or not your trip with school pupils requires certifications or you seek additional information, please contact your local CHP Motor Carrier Specialist for additional information or clarification.