Photo Credit: Stock photo used with rights purchased from 123rf.com
UPDATE: The KC Education Enterprise published this story in the summer of 2011. For information on 2012 school bus inspections on the Missouri side of the state line, CLICK HERE. Kansas school bus inspections are underway and scheduled for completion in late September.
Every year in Missouri, buses paid for by public money transport about half a million children to school. School bus safety is a concern, because automobile accidents are a leading cause of death for children in the United States. However, few such accidents are related to school transportation.
State law requires the Missouri Highway Patrol to inspect school buses for safety issues each year. This year the approval rating for inspections increased slightly, according to highway patrol Colonel Ron Replogle.
The patrol reported inspections of 12,023 Missouri school buses in late winter and early spring. Most were free of defects. Buses in a district with at least 90 percent passing inspection may display a Total Fleet Excellence sticker in the lower corner of the first window on the right side of the bus.
Inspectors classified 1,246 buses as defective. Districts may use these vehicles for student transport, but the vehicles must be repaired and re-inspected within 10 days.
In addition, inspectors classified 234 buses as unsafe and placed them out of service.
During the spring of 2011, 87.7 percent of Missouri school buses passed the Highway Patrol safety inspection, compared with 84.3 percent passing the previous year.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, an average of 139 people die in school transportation-related crashes each year in the United States.
Kansas school bus inspections will be underway starting next week and should be completed by the beginning of the academic year, according to Lt. Kenny Woods of the Kansas Highway Patrol’s Troop A, which oversees school bus inspections in the Kansas City metropolitan area. He predicts about 99 percent of school buses in Kansas will pass inspection.