Wannabe school bus drivers in New Jersey, for at least the next couple of months, won't have to be mechanical experts in order to secure a license.

In order to alleviate a critical shortage of school bus drivers across the country, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is now allowing states to waive the portion of the licensing process that asks applicants to identify "under the hood" engine parts.

And the Garden State announced on Thursday that it is taking advantage of the offer.

Through Mar. 31, New Jersey applicants for school bus driver licensing will be able to skip that part of the exam, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission said. Applicants will still be required to pass all of the safety elements of the exam.

"This will allow New Jersey schools and school bus contractors to hire additional, licensed drivers who are needed to address the critical shortage to get students safely to school," said MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton.

The "under the hood" requirement has been mentioned many times by groups and schools as an obstacle to attracting new drivers. They've also suggested bringing in National Guard members to drive buses, and allowing 15-passenger vans to transport students with a temporary CDL waiver from the state.

MVC says it has taken several steps over the course of the pandemic, including expedited CDL testing, to get as many school bus drivers on New Jersey's roads as quickly and safely as possible.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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