SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Kids are back in school and many of them ride the bus. But did you ever stop to think how safe that bus is?
South Dakota school buses are inspected from top to bottom and why the state is making some changes.
By law every school bus in the state must be inspected at least once a year for safety.
That's comforting news to parents like Judd Lindquist.
“They are my whole world," Lindquist said.
Lindquist's two youngest daughters ride the school bus in Sioux Falls.
"I'm glad that they do those inspections for the simple fact is there are no seat belts, so you want to make sure the vehicles your children are going to school in are safe, proper and good working order," Lindquist said.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol is in charge of all school bus safety inspections. It checks more than 17 hundred school buses every summer.
“We do find deficiencies," Captain Kevin Joffer of the South Dakota Highway Patrol said.
Captain Kevin Joffer says they use a checklist like this one to find out what's working on the bus and what needs fixing.
“When we inspect them we inspect the lights, the interior, also the under carriage and mechanical workings of those busses," Joffer said.
Just one deficiency is enough to get that bus taken off the road. It'll then get a red sticker placed in its front windshield and won't be allowed to haul any children until the deficiencies are fixed and then re-inspected.
The Sioux Falls School District contracts with School Bus Inc. It supplies over 100 school buses for the district and every one of them passed inspection. Those that pass get a blue sticker in the front windshield.
“We've always had great inspections, we rarely have one rejected, I think we have a 99 percent rate I would say," School Bus Inc director Jim Shafer said.
But next year, the state is allowing school districts to get someone trained to do their own inspections.
“I'm in favor of it," Shafer said.
School Bus Inc believes it'll send a couple of people to training to become certified inspectors. Shafer says it won't be a big deal for his mechanics, because they do year around maintenance anyway.
“This will make it easier for us because we can just pull them in and do our normal inspections we do before they come anyway and just put a sticker on it and it'll be done," Shafer said.
But the Highway Patrol will still make sure every bus that's being used to haul your children during the school year is road ready.
“We will still be involved in the process, we will make sure we oversee it and those people who are trained are certified to do the sort of things that they are following the same safety rules," Joffer said.
For parents like Lindquist, that's important, because when it comes to school bus safety and his kids, it's not child's play.
"That's putting faith in someone else's hands for something you consider pretty important that's priceless to you, putting them on a school bus and putting them in somebody else's hands, you know you worry," Lindquist said.
The highway patrol also periodically makes spot checks on school districts throughout the state during the school year, just to make sure the buses they are using are in good safe working order.
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