MVC Chief: School Buses Ready to Roll for Another Safe Year
New Jersey’s strict inspection procedures ensure the safety of student passengers
(EWING TWP.) – Welcoming the start of the 2009-10 school year, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Acting Chief Administrator Shawn B. Sheekey, joined by Department of Education Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gantwerk, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and Executive County School Business Administrator (Mercer County) Marie Goodwin, today reinforced the important role that the MVC’s school bus inspection program plays in New Jersey. Providing a first-hand look at the rigorous inspection process that school bus fleets must undergo twice a year, Sheekey stressed Governor Jon S. Corzine’s commitment to ensuring the safety of this state’s school children.
“There are no shortcuts when it comes to vehicle safety, especially when it involves our children,” said Sheekey. “Parents throughout the state can take comfort in the fact that when they say goodbye each day as their sons and daughters step onto the bus, they will reach their destination in a thoroughly inspected vehicle.”
With over 180 items regularly checked on each New Jersey-registered school vehicle, the MVC’s School Bus Inspection Unit ensures that only the safest vehicles are permitted to transport students. Additionally, the unit’s teams of inspectors carefully review gas and diesel emissions, as well as maintenance and daily driver reports. Each school vehicle’s inspection report is available for viewing at www.njmvc.gov.
At approximately 1,300 locations statewide, 23,000 school vehicles, including school buses,small school vehicles, dual-purpose vehicles and summer camp vehicles, are subject to scheduled inspections every six months by the MVC. Access to vehicle fleet locations for on-site inspections, which is provided under the School Bus Enhanced Safety Inspection Act, allows for better monitoring of carrier operations and maintenance procedures, interaction with mechanics and operational staff, access to inspection and repair records and the ability to ensure more timely inspection of vehicles. Prior to the passage of the Act, all school vehicles were required to be brought to New Jersey inspection facilities.
The MVC’s total yearly inspection counts for the semiannual process are over 78,000, which include re-inspections. Of those vehicles inspected, 40 percent are placed out-of service, while 30 percent are issued 30-day rejection stickers. Violations can range from serious issues, such as brake and steering system problems, to minor issues affecting interior dome and step lighting. Most times, the violations issued are addressed and re-inspected during the same visit. Once the MVC has re-inspected the vehicles, approximately 91 percent are deemed safe for the road.
“As with the inspection of any vehicle that travels our roadways, MVC inspectors are meticulous in their efforts to detect major and minor defects,” said Sheekey. “It is this dedication to safety that demonstrates to the citizens of New Jersey that we a providing a true benefit.”
In addition to scheduled inspections, the School Bus Inspection Unit also performs monthly, unannounced inspections with the New Jersey State Police as part of the New Jersey School Bus Task Force. These inspections are performed to ensure that bus companies and school districts are keeping accurate records and completing regular maintenance on their buses in the months between the MVC’s visits.
Along with making sure all school vehicles are safe and in good working order, the MVC’s School Bus Inspection Unit also makes sure all drivers are properly licensed and have their paperwork up to date. In New Jersey, all individuals who wish to transport students must have a Commercial Driver License (CDL) with ‘P’ (passenger) and ‘S’ (school bus) endorsements. To obtain and keep a CDL and the proper endorsements, drivers need to meet several criteria, which include undergoing a thorough criminal background check and a complete medical review.