HILLSBOROUGH–New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez and local legislators joined a local kindergarten class for an event to reinforce the importance of the state’s stringent school bus inspection program that looks at more than 20,000 vehicles twice a year on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Valcheck Bus Company yard in Hillsborough, Martinez stressed the “MVC does not kid around with safety.”
“On this first day of school, and on every day that follows, parents who entrust their local school districts with their most precious of cargos should be able to do so with the knowledge their children will be transported to and from school safely,” Martinez added.
“From the kindergartners who are with us today and are just starting their educational journey all the way up to high school seniors, all children in this great state have the right to ride to school safely,” said Martinez.
The MVC’s mobile inspection team was on hand for one of its scheduled inspections of the company’s 28 school buses. Joining the inspection team were 21 kindergartners from the nearby Goddard School of Hillsborough. The school uses the Valcheck buses for field trips.
With over 180 items regularly checked on each New Jersey-registered school vehicle, the MVC’s School Bus Inspection Unit ensures that only the safest vehicles are permitted to transport students.
Additionally, the unit’s teams of inspectors carefully review gas and diesel emissions, as well as maintenance and daily driver reports. Each school vehicle’s inspection report is available for viewing at www.njmvc.gov.
Martinez noted that New Jersey requires a higher standard of safety for its buses than mandated by federal law. In fact, New Jersey is one of only four states that require buses are placed in retirement after only 12 years of use.
At approximately 1,400 locations statewide, 23,000 school vehicles, including school buses, small school vehicles, dual-purpose vehicles and summer camp vehicles, are subject to scheduled inspections every six months by the MVC.
Access to vehicle fleet locations for on-site inspections, which is provided under the School Bus Enhanced Safety Inspection Act, allows for better monitoring of carrier operations and maintenance procedures, interaction with mechanics and operational staff, access to inspection and repair records and the ability to ensure more timely inspection of vehicles. Prior to the passage of the Act, all school vehicles were required to be brought to New Jersey inspection facilities.
The MVC’s total yearly inspection counts for the semiannual process are over 79,000, which include re-inspections. Of those vehicles inspected, 40 percent are placed out-of service, while 30 percent are issued 30-day rejection stickers. Violations can range from serious issues, such as brake and steering system problems, to minor issues affecting interior dome and step lighting. Most times, the violations issued are addressed and re-inspected during the same visit. Once the MVC has re-inspected the vehicles, approximately 91 percent are deemed safe for the road.
“As with the inspection of any school vehicle that transports children, MVC inspectors are meticulous in their efforts to detect major and minor defects,” said Martinez. “It is this dedication to school bus safety that demonstrates to the citizens of New Jersey that we are providing a true benefit.”
In addition to scheduled inspections, the School Bus Inspection Unit also performs monthly, unannounced inspections with the New Jersey State Police as part of the New Jersey School Bus Task Force. These inspections are performed to ensure that bus companies and school districts are keeping accurate records and completing regular maintenance on their buses in the months between the MVC’s visits.
Along with making sure all school vehicles are safe and in good working order, the MVC’s School Bus Inspection Unit also makes sure all drivers are properly licensed and have their paperwork up to date. In New Jersey, all individuals who wish to transport students must have a Commercial Driver License (CDL) with ‘P’ (passenger) and ‘S’ (school bus) endorsements. To obtain and keep a CDL and the proper endorsements, drivers need to meet several criteria, which include undergoing a thorough criminal background check and a complete medical review.
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