JACKSON, N.J. — Sharon Harrington, chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), recently joined its School Bus Inspection Unit during a scheduled inspection of the Jackson Township Board of Education’s fleet.
The unit inspects all New Jersey-registered vehicles used for school transportation — including school buses, small school vehicles, dual-purpose vehicles and summer camp vehicles — at approximately 1,300 inspection locations twice a year. MVC inspectors check over 180 items on each vehicle, in addition to reviewing gas, diesel, emissions, maintenance records and daily driver reports.
“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 said. “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.”
The School Bus Inspection Unit also performs monthly, unannounced inspections with the New Jersey police department as part of the state’s School Bus Task Force 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.
In 2005, the MVC developed a system on its Website that allows the public to access school bus inspection records. Parents can obtain up to two years worth of inspection data for their child’s school bus.
In related news, data compiled for a recent Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll suggests that some New Jersey residents are concerned about statewide school bus driver training and school bus maintenance.
According to the poll, about 14 percent of residents felt that all or most buses currently on the road have serious mechanical or maintenance problems. Thirty-five percent felt that some school buses have these problems, while 36 percent said that only a few or none of the buses are in need of repair.
With regard to driver training, 50 percent of respondents agreed that school bus drivers receive enough training to effectively handle traffic and road hazards, while 27 percent disagreed. Moreover, 40 percent of residents felt that bus drivers receive enough training to handle distractions caused by their passengers, while 36 percent of respondents disagreed.
Interestingly, the poll also found that parents whose children take buses to school are less likely than other residents to feel that drivers are adequately trained to deal with road hazards (42 percent agreed, 35 percent disagreed) and distractions (32 percent agreed, 44 percent disagreed).
Over 1,000 New Jersey residents were questioned for the poll, which was conducted via telephone by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in July.
To view the statistics in full, click here.