Yesterday we took calls on the news that a 77 year old bus driver and his 78 year old bus aide didn't do their jobs properly and forgot a special needs student, leaving him locked on the bus at the end of their shift for nearly 3 hours. What's even more disturbing is the elderly bus driver swore to police that he dropped that student at home and even claimed to watch him be greeted by a family member and go inside the house. None of that was true. This information wasted time as the police scoured the neighborhood searching for the boy. Finally a police office decided to go to the lot where the bus was parked and check despite what the old man told him. Sure enough, there they found the student, locked inside for all those hours. Was the bus driver covering up? Or did his age have something to do with the forgetfulness?

Looking into this more I was shocked to learn advanced age has nothing to do with your Commercial Driver's License (CDL). You may legally operate a school bus in New Jersey and hang onto your CDL with no mandatory retirement age and no road re-testing. For all our qualms about senior citizens driving congested New Jersey roads, I'm amazed we would legally allow people near 80, in their 80's or beyond to transport our children in rush hour traffic. In this case, perhaps the driving skills were fine but the memory certainly was not. He and the aide have both been charged with child endangerment. I'd like to see mandatory re-testing for all elderly drivers in the Garden State. Short of that, at the very least we need to think about the wisdom of allowing septuagenarians and octogenarians to be the ones transporting our kids.

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