Indiana State Police inspects school buses: ‘These buses are being held to the highest standard’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- School's out for the summer, but school bus safety remains top priority.  Indiana law requires State Police to perform annual inspections on all Hoosier buses, plus, a semi-annual check for buses at least 12 years old.

On Tuesday, Indiana State Police were inspecting buses at Metropolitan School District of Washington Township. This team is responsible for checking thousands of Indiana buses, a task that takes weeks, but critical before any child gets on board.

Washington Township leaders says their buses are being held to the highest standard and Indiana State Police are making sure of it.

“These school buses are the safest method of ground transportation on the planet,” said Gary Clevenger, the Director of Transportation at Washington Township.

In January, Clevenger says Washington Township received a 100 percent pass rate. Six months later, he’s hoping for the same result.

ISP troopers, like Alexander Willis are checking stop arms, lights, control panels and much more.

“The first thing he’s checking for is the steering,” described Willis, “That’s why they rock the steering.  He’s looking for any leaks, the radiator, fuel, oil, transmission.”

Jerry Bond has worked with Washington Township for 35 years. He not only helps supervise these inspections, but also is a mechanic and a bus driver for the district. He says, some minor fixes were found.

“We’ve had exhaust leaks, we’ve found some suspension axle issues, a couple of break repairs,” said Bond.

This year there’s a bit more emphasis, as school bus safety is among new laws that took effect July 1.

“You want to have reflective tape on your bus,” said Clevenger, “You want to make sure your red lights are flashing, you want to make sure your amber lights are on, you want to make sure your high and low beams are going. That’s been best practice for years and years, but I am excited to see the legislature took a role to make sure that was mandated, but as you can see from our buses, they will operate all the time.”

Along with visible mandates, many buses are now equipped with cameras. Also, drivers who pass a school bus when the stop arm is out will now face harsher penalties.

“It’s an on-going problem in every school district, but it’s unsafe and it’s unnecessary and if people would learn there’s a really large penalty if you don’t just take your time and let these kids get on board, then I think we’ll have to make it the hard way,” said Clevenger.

Police say, it’s now up to the driver.

“The bus is safe,” said Willis, “It’s the people who are out there going around the buses that aren’t safe.”

So, what’s the safety status of the buses in your child’s district? Not all inspections are complete yet. Click here to see the status of your child’s bus.

School bus drivers spent one day in April tallying up stop arm violations during their routes.  On that one day, they tallied 2,530 violations.

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