Virginia district urges state to update bus inspection regulations

Posted on August 11, 2009

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — School bus inspections could be less physically demanding for bus drivers statewide by next spring.

The state Department of Education (DOE) is revising its current regulations, which require a driver to inspect components under the vehicle’s hood and under the vehicle itself.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that transportation officials in Virginia Beach complained about outdated school bus inspection regulations more than a year ago.

Last spring, the DOE began requiring school bus drivers to conduct more detailed daily inspections, which involve climbing onto a bus tire to open the vehicle’s hood and getting under the bus to look for loose shock absorbers and cracks, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Virginia Beach schools have reportedly paid about $4,200 to settle personal injury claims related to the physical inspections since the state DOE began requiring them. Most injuries have been the result of drivers lifting a bus hood to check coolant levels in the engine compartment.

John Kalocay, head of operations for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, called the regulations "antiquated" in a letter to the state last year, adding that they are "not necessary to ensure student safety" because of advances in monitoring equipment, such as temperature gauges to monitor coolant on bus dashboards. Kalocay asked the state to quickly change the rules, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

A planned update of the state’s school bus inspection regulations is in the works. June Eanes, director of support services for the DOE, told The Virginian-Pilot that the earliest the new regulations could be in place is in the spring.

The most current version of the inspection regulations update would remove a requirement for drivers to get under the bus and shake shock absorbers, but they would still need to open the hood to check the bus’ coolant level.


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