RICHMOND, Va. — Many of the school buses in the state that had been found in May to be missing a safety device that prevents the parking brake from accidentally disengaging are now equipped with the device.

As previously reported, the Virginia Department of Education had discovered that approximately 4,000 public school buses operating in Virginia lacked the parking brake interlock feature as required by state specifications.

Upon becoming aware of the situation, school bus dealer Sonny Merryman Inc. took action to bring all affected Thomas Built buses into compliance before the start of the 2017-18 school year, according to a news release from the dealer.

During the course of the summer, a team of nearly a dozen Sonny Merryman Inc. field technicians installed the feature on more than 2,000 public school buses manufactured by Thomas Built Buses. Over a recent 10-week period, the team traveled to 86 school districts across Virginia to perform the interlock installation procedure.

“I can’t say enough about our service guys and the cooperation and support we received from our customers. We were faced with this challenging task during our busiest time of the year, and we got it done in time for school start,” said Floyd Merryman, president and CEO of Sonny Merryman Inc. “We were absolutely determined to take prompt corrective action to ensure the safety of Virginia’s students and school bus drivers. All Thomas school buses currently operating in Virginia are now compliant with the parking brake interlock requirement.”

The Virginia Department of Education is continuing to track the brake interlock installation progress of all of the affected public school buses.

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