chattanooga bus ABC News
A deadly crash in Chattanooga persuaded Tennessee legislators to raise standards for school bus drivers.

New Tennessee law raises standards for school bus drivers

Drivers must be at least 25 years old and complete a safety program before they can operate a school bus.

School bus drivers in Tennessee must be at least 25 years old, after a new law went into effect on Jan. 1.

The Associated Press reports that state lawmakers made the change last year in reaction to a November 2016 school bus crash in Chattanooga that killed six elementary school children and injured others. The driver, Johnthony Walker, was 24 at the time.

Authorities say Walker was speeding and had received a cellphone call before he wrecked the bus, which was carrying 37 children. Walker, now 25, faces 34 charges, including six counts of vehicular homicide.

The law also requires a school bus driver safety program, five consecutive years of driving experience for drivers and appointment of school district and charter school transportation supervisors.

But it stops short of requiring new school buses in Tennessee to be equipped with seat belts, a legislative push that failed in the General Assembly early in 2017.

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