The Missouri State Highway Patrol's annual inspection report showed that the state’s school bus safety approval rating is at a four year low.
Since 2011, a yearly average of around 12% of buses statewide failed to pass initial inspections. This year, the number has increased to 15%.
“The inspection results are down from what we’ve had in past years,” said David Wilson, the Columbia Public Schools Transportation Coordinator.
Wilson suggests the harsh winter may have played a factor in the buses conditions and led to a decrease in approval ratings.
Not only are numbers in the state suffering, but Columbia is as well. Columbia’s school bus approval rating is worse than the state average with one in five buses failing the first inspection.
When buses are not approved, the Highway Patrol gives the district 10 days to make the repairs before reevaluating the vehicles.
In Columbia’s case, Wilson said after the 10-day repair period and the second inspection, every bus in the district was approved and back in service.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Assistant Director Lt. John Hotz stressed the importance of these inspections in the interest of children’s safety.
“What we can do is inspect the buses, find the violations and get them corrected so that they can be as safe as possible,” Hotz said.
Another incentive for district school buses to pass the inspection the first time is the Total Fleet Excellence award. A district qualifies for the award when fewer than 10 percent of its buses fail inspection. Recipients of the award are granted a certificate and a sticker for each bus of the honored district.
There will be 34 fewer districts in Missouri to receive the award this year from last. Columbia Public Schools is not one of the schools to be receiving the award.