Keeping students safe: What the NJ MVC requires for school bus inspections

Twenty-four thousand school buses will take over 750,000 children to and from school in New Jersey this year, and the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission is making sure those buses are as safe as possible for students.

With a list of 180 safety components, the MVC requires that each bus passes two inspections a year by inspectors looking for everything from rust to exhaust leaks. Thomas Bednarz, the state MVC’s Director of Inspections, said each bus must pass muster on each of the 180 items, and the initial failure rate is 77%. Half the buses tested have problems, like bad tires or brakes, that require an immediate fix before the vehicle can transport students. For the remaining lesser items, the owner has 30 days to make repairs.

“It’s a very thorough inspection. Many of the things we find, they’re able to correct on the spot,” said the head of New Jersey’s MVC Sue Fulton.

The state wants to avoid incidents like last year’s Route 80 bus crash that left two dead and 43 injured. Since then, Gov. Phil Murphy has signed eight bus safety bills into law, among them, requiring seat belts on buses and additional medical exams for older drivers.

In addition to added safety measures for school buses and drivers, Fulton also urged other drivers to watch out for children.

“Too many kids have been injured or died because an impatient driver decided to illegally pass a school bus,” said Fulton. “Be mindful of kids walking, waiting, boarding or getting off school buses. No meeting, no event, no appointment, nothing you need to get to is as important as a child’s life.”