A few years ago, someone created a Facebook event page for “Jesus, Take the Wheel” Day. It encouraged Christian drivers to remove their hands for a total of five minutes on the highway on a particular day and let Jesus control the car.
That turned out to be a joke (thankfully), but Mississippi legislators may soon pass a very real bill that lets people get behind the wheel of a vehicle they have no business driving… as long as it’s church-owned:
House members on Thursday [Feb. 5] 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…
Current law requires CDL-certified drivers for any vehicle transporting more than 16 passengers, including the driver. The bill would amend that law to exempt church buses designed to carry 30 passengers or less.
It’s a ridiculous and potentially-harmful exemption. Keep in mind that obtaining a CDL license isn’t that hard. You simply have to pass a written test, a driving test, and a physical exam.
True story: When I worked at a high school, I was trained to drive a mini-bus, just in case I ever needed to use one as a head coach. It required spending a little time behind the wheel (with supervision) and watching a best-practices video. There’s no way the school would have allowed me to drive the small bus without at least that basic training, because it would have put kids’ lives in jeopardy.
This Mississippi bill would let church leaders drive a much larger bus with absolutely no formal training at all. It’s religious privilege gone too far.
When contacted by The Clarion-Ledger, longtime CDL-certified driver Troy Coll of Hattiesburg called the measure potentially dangerous.
“I think this bill is trading the safety of everyone on the road for the convenience of those operating church vehicles,” Coll said. “Since the bill covers vehicles up to 30 passengers, we’re not just talking vans with extra rows of seats — these are buses, with long frames and much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles.”
If state officials care so little about the safety of passengers in these church-owned vehicles — and the people who have to be on the road with these drivers — they may as well just pass a bill allowing Jesus to take the wheel.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)