If Mo. vehicle inspections are repealed, school bus examinations also may end

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. -- An proposal in the state legislature to repeal motor vehicle inspections for Missourians also would end safety examinations of school buses.

Highway patrol inspectors currently ensure every school bus in the state is ready to carry children.

Between now and May 1, inspectors make sure school bus equipment, such as stop arms are working, and alarms sound when an emergency exit opens.

Inspectors also check the operation of the bus, examining the steering and the brakes, just as an independent mechanic would when vehicle owners get a $12 safety inspection on their own cars.

A bill in Jefferson City would repeal vehicle inspections for individual drivers and also may eliminate annual school bus inspections that are part of the same law.

"That statute also encompasses this process," said Cpl. Nate Bradley of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "If that statute was repealed, as the bill proposes, if it’s not fixed, if it’s not put in there where this would be encompassed under another statute, this process would be gone as well."

So far this year, Bradley says the highway patrol in the Kansas City area has found 43 violations on more than 430 buses it inspected. That's about 10 percent of school buses with issues that need to be corrected to make sure kids have all the functioning safeguards parents expect onboard.

"We feel like we have a really good group of mechanics that keep our bus fleet in check," said Brad Welle, deputy superintendent of Grain Valley schools. "But we like having that third party inspection come in and give us the reassurance and give our community the reassurance that these buses are good to go and are safe down to the light bulb."

Many of the violations the patrol finds are minor issues, such as a light bulb or buzzer that's not working.

Still, Bradley says the school bus inspections do help save lives and prevent crashes.

The patrol will inspect 2,600 school buses in the Kansas City area alone by May 1.

The Grain Valley school district believes the inspections validate that every school bus is as safe as it can be.