The New York State Senate has passed a bill – S5171B – sponsored by State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) that would require all bus drivers to submit to criminal background checks in order to improve safety for bus passengers following several bus crashes caused by dangerous bus drivers with histories of criminal driving convictions. The legislation has been sent to the Assembly for consideration.

“Bus drivers literally hold their passengers’ lives and safety in their hands; those passengers should be able to trust that the driver is qualified to handle that responsibility,” Senator Fuschillo, Chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, stated in a press release. “Helping to weed out drivers who don’t belong behind the wheel of a bus will help improve safety for bus passengers and everyone else on the roads.”

S5171B would require all new bus drivers to submit to a criminal background check when they are hired and be subjected to a 90 day conditional period while the background check is being undertaken. All current bus drivers would submit to a criminal background check when they renew their commercial driver’s license, a requirement currently applying only to school bus drivers. The current lack of a background check requirement enables many drivers with a history of criminal driving convictions to stay on the road.

As reported in the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog ‘Background Check of Bus Driver with Criminal Past under Scrutiny after Fatal Crash in New York,’ the Governor of New York had ordered an investigation into a March 2011 bus crash that left 15 people dead, citing the “criminal record and driving history” of the bus driver after it was discovered he had served prison time for manslaughter and forgery and had driving privileges suspended after ignoring tickets for speeding and driving without a license.

Employers can avoid “bad hires” by practicing due diligence with background checks. If employers hire someone who they knew – or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known – was dangerous, unfit, or not qualified for the position, the employer can be sued for negligent hiring if injuries or death occur. For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at

To read New York Senate Bill S5171B, visit:

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and provides industry leading technology, legal compliance, service, turnaround, and accuracy. ESR also wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information about ESR, visit