P.O. Box 160
Mike Horan/Cathleen Lewis
RELEASE: September 4, 2008
MVC’s Harrington Highlights Commitment to Safety
Safety inspections ensure buses are ready for another school year .
(JACKSON) – New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chief Administrator Sharon A. Harrington today brought the highway safety issue to the school yard as she joined the MVC’s School Bus Inspection Unit for a scheduled fleet inspection at the Jackson Township Board of Education. Harrington stressed the Commission’s commitment to school bus safety and highlighted the rigorous inspection process that each New Jersey school bus must undergo.
“When it comes to our children, safety cannot be taken for granted,” noted Harrington. “When a child steps onto the school bus on that first day of school, a parent should take comfort in the fact that the Motor Vehicle Commission has done a thorough and complete review of the vehicle and all associated records. It’s a job that the MVC takes very seriously.”
The MVC’s School Bus Inspection Unit is responsible for inspecting all New Jersey-registered vehicles used for school transportation, including school buses, small school vehicles, dual-purpose vehicles and summer camp vehicles. MVC inspectors check over 180 items on each vehicle, in addition to a review of gas, diesel, emissions, maintenance records and daily driver reports.
Traveling throughout New Jersey, inspection teams visit approximately 1,300 inspection locations comprising 23,000 school vehicles, which are inspected twice a year. Prior to 1998, all school vehicles were required to visit New Jersey inspection facilities, but the passage of the School Bus Enhanced Safety Inspection Act revolutionized the inspection process. The law permits the MVC to conduct on-site inspections, allowing 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.
The MVC’s total yearly inspection counts for the semiannual process are over 78,000, 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. Once the MVC has re-inspected the vehicles, approximately 91 percent are deemed safe for road.
“It is because of our commitment to the safety of the state’s students that the MVC has one of the most stringent school bus inspection programs in the country,” Harrington added. “Our program combines Department of Education and federal requirements, as well as particular items the MVC feels are important to monitor. It is due to our meticulous inspection process that parents can rest assured that both minor and major defects will be detected.”
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.
In October 2005, the MVC, with the support of the New Jersey Office of Information Technology (OIT), rolled out a system allowing the public to access school bus inspection records. The system offers parents the opportunity to obtain the inspection data for their child’s school bus for the two most recent years simply by logging on to the MVC’s Web site at www.njmvc.gov.