Michigan State Police’s (MSP) School Bus Inspection Unit is implementing QR code technology to every school bus in the state to allow school districts, contractors and dealers to manage their fleets within one system.

The school bus inspection unit has been developing this software for the past year to keep better track of each of the 17,000 buses.

“We were trying to figure out how to specifically identify a bus. There could be 50 number seven buses in the state so the assigned bus number didn’t really do us that much good,” Sgt. Mike McLaughlin of the MSP School Bus Inspection Unit told SBF. “QR codes for public access is unique and helps provide transparency of the inspection process.”

By using the QR code reader on a smartphone, parents can find out what district the bus belongs to and whether the bus meets the safety criteria to pass inspection.

Michigan is required to have annual inspections. The operational lights, brakes, steering components and suspension are some of the main functions checked during each inspection.

"Violation repairs are documented from the log-in, and a complete inspection history is maintained," McLaughlin said. "Because of the data search capability of the application, we anticipate the discovery of trends affecting school bus safety."

Currently, not all of the buses within the state have QR codes in place. In order for a bus to receive a QR code it must go through inspection. McLaughlin said it will take the inspection unit a year to enter all the information into the database.

“Before we were running on a paper-based system and there really was no way to retrieve any of our old data. Whereas now every field is searchable,” McLaughlin said.

MSP gives buses one of three ratings: pass, yellow or red. When a bus falls into the yellow column, it is in unsatisfactory condition but is safe. The bus has 60 days to be repaired. When a bus receives a red rating, it is not safe to operate and must be taken off the road until it is fixed.