JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A higher percentage of Missouri school buses passed their initial state inspection this year compared to last year, according to results from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

In the agency’s 2015 school bus inspection program, 11,986 school buses were inspected between Feb. 2 and May 15. Of all those buses, 88.3% were approved on initial inspection, with no defective items noted.

The percentage is up nearly four points from the 2014 state inspections, in which 84.7% were approved on initial inspection.

“The day-to-day maintenance of school bus fleets brings many challenges, and the public should be pleased with the 2015 statewide results of the annual school bus inspection,” said Col. J. Bret Johnson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “Our children deserve the safest transportation possible. The positive working relationship that exists among the agencies involved in this program — the patrol, Missouri’s school districts and contracting agencies — is directly responsible for the success of the annual school bus inspection program."

During the inspections, buses found to have no defective items are rated "approved." Buses having one or more defective items that pose no threat to the safety of students are rated "defective." Buses with one or more defective items that may compromise safety are rated "out of service."

Buses rated "defective" may continue to be operated for pupil transportation until the necessary repairs are made. School districts are allowed 10 days after the initial inspection to repair the identified defects before being re-inspected by Highway Patrol inspectors. Buses placed out of service must be repaired, then re-inspected and placed back into service by Highway Patrol inspectors before being used for pupil transportation.

The statewide results of the 2015 school bus inspection program are:

• Buses approved on initial inspection: 10,579 (88.3%)
• Buses identified as defective on initial inspection: 1,150 (9.6%)
• Buses placed out of service on initial inspection: 257 (2.1%)

A total of 291 Missouri school districts earned the Highway Patrol’s Total Fleet Excellence Award for an approval rating of 90% or higher with no buses placed out of service. During the 2015-16 school year, 5,758 buses in those fleets will be allowed to display the Total Fleet Excellence sticker in the lower corner of the first window on the passenger-entry side of the bus.

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