Now parents in New Jersey have the safety records of their child’s school bus right at their fingertips. Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez announced the agency is making more information available in the school bus “report cards” it publishes online at njmvc.gov.
The agency this week began posting the percentage of buses at a specific school district or bus company that have passed inspection or been placed out of service. It also lists the specific reasons the school bus failed inspection and subsequent exam results.
“The MVC is serious when it comes to the safety of school buses, so we are very proud of the enhancements we have made to our School Bus Report Card,” Martinez told the local newspaper. “We want parents to feel comfortable that the vehicle used to transport their child each school day is safe and ready to go.”
Officials said nearly half (47.7 percent) of all schools vehicles are temporarily placed out of service following inspections, while 12 percent are issued 30-day rejection stickers. Violations range from serious defects, such as brake or tire problems, to minor ones involving lighting or seats, and they are typically addressed during the same visit. The agency said about 95 percent of vehicles are deemed safe after repair and re-inspection.
The MVC inspects all school vehicles registered with the state twice a year, using a comprehensive 180-point checklist. Inspection results are then entered into the MVC’s online report card for parents to view.
Besides scheduled inspections, the School Bus Inspection Unit also conducts monthly, unannounced inspections with the New Jersey State Police, as part of the New Jersey School Bus Task Force, to ensure that school bus contractors and school systems keep accurate records and carry out regular bus maintenance between the MVC’s visits.
“As with the inspection of any school vehicle that transports children, MVC inspectors are meticulous in their efforts to detect major and minor defects,” Martinez said. “It is this dedication to school bus safety that demonstrates to the citizens of New Jersey that we are providing a true benefit.”
Last month, hundreds of school buses in northeast Ohio and Massachusetts failed back-to-school safety inspections, prompting concern among officials and parents alike. In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles inspects school vehicles three times a year. In Ohio, the state Highway Patrol conducts all inspections, including annual back-to-school inspections and unannounced spot inspections twice a year, but school districts determine the frequency of their own inspections.