School bus safety: Inside look at MSP inspection

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division inspects each and every school bus in the state, roughly 17,000 buses a year.

“Bumper to bumper, top to bottom. Every nut, bolt, bracket, component,” said Craig Juraowski, a bus inspector.

From the exterior to the interior – the emphasis is on student safety.

“We’re looking at all interior for any sharp edges, lose material, lose body panels,” said Juraowski

Bus inspections are mandated by Public Act 187. Any issues found are logged and flagged using a color coded tag system.

A yellow tag violation is less serious. The bus remains in rotation, but a repair must be made within 60 days.

With a red tag, a bus is taken out of rotation for immediate repair.

But some issues, even serious ones fall outside MSP guidelines.

Last year, a Forest Hills school bus burst into flames during a route. No students were hurt and the cause was found to be an electrical issues with the power distribution module.

Forest Hills immediately removed all nine buses of the same model out of its rotation and each part was replaced. The district also adjusted its in-house preventive maintenance plan to monitor the issues more closely.

“As those buses continue to operate in our fleet, we want to make sure that a similar problem doesn’t reoccur in that same area,” said Darryl Hofstra, Forest Hill Supervisor of Transportation.

Starting Sept. 1, MSP is switching from paper to an automated system. All inspections will be recorded electronically and with a smart phone app, parents can access instant information.

“A member of the public with a smart phone and a QR reader would be able to scan that code and the return would be able to tell them what the current status of that school bus is,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. Michael McLaughlin.

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