BACK TO SCHOOL 2013
This is part of an occasional series of stories leading up to the start of the school year next week.
GREENFIELD — With just a few days before students start lining up at the bus stop, hundreds of school buses are ready to roll.
Each year before the start of school, buses throughout the state are inspected by Indiana State Police and undergo necessary maintenance before admitting their passengers.
Over the past two weeks in Hancock County, state police inspected 164 buses. Of those 164, all but nine were given the green light, according to the inspection reports. The remaining nine will stay out of service temporarily until they undergo maintenance, much of which will be completed before school starts.
Bill Redmon, transportation director for Greenfield-Central School Corp., said the inspections are thorough, and parents should be confident their children are safe when they climb aboard the buses.
State police inspectors have a detailed check list, including each bus’s lights, steering system, emergency equipment and engine components.
They also inspect the interior of the buses, including the seats, to make sure nothing is loose.
“It doesn’t take them a real long time, but they don’t miss very much, either,” Redmon said of the inspectors. “They’re pretty sharp. It’s quite an ordeal.”
The state requires school corporations to utilize each bus for at least 12 years, Redmon said. Any bus older than 12 years old is inspected twice per year.
In order to make a bus last long enough to meet the state minimum, it is standard practice to require bus drivers to perform frequent checks in between the state inspections.
Redmon said his drivers go through a check list daily, before every trip. And after every 200 hours of service, the bus undergoes a more thorough check that involves everything on the State Police inspection list.
Safety is always first priority, Redmon said.
“If there’s a doubt in your mind, you just fix it,” he said. “We really strive to keep them as safe as possible. I put my grandkids on there.”
An average bus will travel 15,000 miles per year. That includes not only daily trips to and from school but also field trips and sporting events.
The Indiana State Police maintains a digital database of inspection results, which are available online to the public. Interested parents, provided they know their children’s bus number, can see the individual inspection report for their child’s bus.