Mississippi Law Would Permit Unlicensed Drivers To Operate Buses Under Religious Exemption

Jesus Take The Wheel ActAlabama and Mississippi have recently been in a battle of which state could pass the most ridiculous laws. For awhile, I didn’t think anything was going to top the Alabama city declaring itself to be “owned by God,” something I’m sure any supernatural being would ask for a refund on immediately. To make sure they didn’t lose any ground to Mississippi, Alabama also came back with free lawyers for fetuses, just in case Mississippi had any plans of outdoing them in the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot category. Mississippi then responded with a proposal to make the Bible the official state book and Alabama countered with state Chief Justice Roy Moore telling the federal government that his religion says he doesn’t have to listen to them on gay marriage.

Alabama looked like it had the crazy religious thing on lockdown, but now Mississippi has introduced a bill nicknamed the “Jesus Take The Wheel Act.” Seriously.

House members on Thursday passed a bill exempting mid-sized church buses from the state’s commercial driver’s license requirements, prompting one lawmaker to call it the “Jesus Take the Wheel Act.”

The bill, HB 132, would help congregations lacking a CDL-certified driver transport up to 30 passengers in a church-owned vehicle. Although applying equally to all churches, it’s primarily aimed at smaller congregations with fewer members and financial resources.

It now heads to the Senate for consideration. (Source)

As if I actually needed another reason NOT to go to Mississippi (even though the BBQ at Pig Out Inn in Natchez is delicious), now we are looking at the possibility of non-certified individuals driving church buses – because certainly nothing bad could ever happen there. I wonder how the churches that go to Jackson to protest the one remaining abortion clinic choose a driver under this scenario? Do they pick the youngest person with a license, the person with the best vision, or do they go with the one with the fewest DUIs on their record?

All snark aside, why does a church get exempted from rules that are there to protect not only the safety of passengers in the vehicle, but also passengers in other vehicles or even pedestrians? These aren’t just 15 passenger vans that you see those denim skirt wearing homeschooling evangelicals piling out of at Walmart either. We’re talking about buses potentially being operated by people not trained on how to drive them, but I guess Mississippi lawmakers figure that the “Jesus Take The Wheel Act” makes sense because Jesus will deal with the fallout of allowing dangerous drivers on the road.

Commercial certified bus drivers must pass a written test and a driving test and also must get a CDL Medical Card, which requires the driver pass a physical.

“Obtaining a CDL is not especially difficult,” Coll said, “but the testing does increase the level of scrutiny on drivers, and the medical requirements prevent individuals with poor vision/hearing/motor control or untreated diabetes from driving large vehicles full of vulnerable passengers.”

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, though, one of the most dangerous – and popular – church transport vehicles requires no certified driver at all. The fully loaded 15-passenger van has a high roll-over risk resulting in numerous fatalities nationwide, the NTSB said in a consumer warning. (Source)

It’s bad enough that they get out of paying taxes and still get to pretend the Bible trumps the Constitution every chance they get, but now they can also get out of transportation regulations, because they’re a religious organization? I wonder how the lawmakers over in Mississippi would feel if the Church of Satan or a Muslim group demanded to be covered under the Jesus Take The Wheel Act?

A couple of years back, some people decided to create “Jesus Take The Wheel Day” as a joke Facebook event scheduled for March 31, 2013 to see whether anyone would be dumb enough to actually try this. Apparently Mississippi lawmakers are willing to up the ante and allow unlicensed people to drive buses under a religious exemption. What could possibly go wrong?


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