NEW BLOOMFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Troop F is conducting its annual inspections of mid-Missouri school buses.
"We start in February and it goes through April," Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott White said. "There's around 60 school districts and schools they inspect and that includes well over 1,000 buses. So it's a lot of work but it's definitely worth it."
The Highway Patrol does the inspections in spring to make sure the buses are ready to go for fall with the start of the school year. White said the bus companies will do another inspection about 60 days out from the start of the new school year. MSHP inspectors also do spot checks throughout the year.
"We do these inspections because it's part of our mission," White said. "The school children and their families deserve to have the safest transportation possible. We take that very seriously. The schools take it seriously. And the transportation services take it seriously. So this annual school bus inspection program ensures that Missouri school buses are some of the safest in the nation."
The inspections cover three categories: internal, external and undercarriage.
The internal portion covers things like seat belts, seat covers and hand railings, down to the bolts that hold the chairs in place. The external portion checks the stop signs and flashing lights, and makes sure exit doors can be opened from the outside. The undercarriage inspection includes brakes, steering and tires, among other safety points.
The buses can get one of three results: approved, meaning there were no problems at all; rejected, meaning there may be one or two small issues that need to be resolved like a torn seat cover; and out of service that could mean a safety issue.
"In our for that (out of service) bus to be placed back in service, it has to be repaired, reinspected by our inspectors and then put back in service by the patrol," White said.
Last year, more than 12,000 buses were inspected across Missouri. Eighty percent passed with no defects. Only 2 percent had to be placed out of service.
"Some of the buses are 100 percent, meaning all of this point inspection they going through, there was not one single problem with that bus," White said. "And that says a lot for the school districts and company that takes care of these buses."