Back to school

OHP pre­pares the rest of us for school days, pro­motes school bus safety

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Kristi Garabrandt kgarabrandt@news-her­ald. com @Kris­ti_G_1223 on Twit­ter

With sum­mer wind­ing down and the school year close to be­gin­ning, kids across Ohio will soon switch from rid­ing bikes to rid­ing school buses.

While par­ents and stu­dents shop for school sup­plies, the Ohio High­way Pa­trol and bus garages through­out the state are do­ing their part to get ready as well.

OHP mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­spec­tors have been busy in­spect­ing school buses to make sure they are road ready and ca­pable of safely trans­port­ing stu­dents.

There are more than 24,000 school buses in Ohio, ac­cord­ing to in­spec­tor Mark King, and ev­ery one of them has to go through two in­spec­tions each year.

From 2015 to 2017, OHP per­formed 121,172 bus in­spec­tions.

The state re­quires that each bus un­dergo a full in­spec­tion an­nu­ally be­fore it can be cer­ti­fied to be out on the road and trans­port­ing stu­dents.

This in­cludes a full in­te­rior and ex­te­rior ex­am­i­na­tion

of each bus.

The sus­pen­sion, the en­gine, frame, body, light­ing, tires and safety fea­tures are all checked to be sure every­thing is work­ing cor­rectly.

If a mi­nor vi­o­la­tion such as an in­te­rior light not work­ing is dis­cov­ered, the garage is re­quired to fix it in a timely man­ner.

If it’s a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion such as bald tires, brakes out of ad­just­ment or a worn sus­pen­sion sys­tem, the bus is put out of ser­vice un­til re­pairs are made.

In ad­di­tion to the an­nual in­spec­tion dur­ing the sum­mer months, the in­spec­tors work through­put the school year do­ing unan­nounced spot in­spec­tions to en­sure the buses are main­tained.

“We have some of the strictest safety re­stric­tions in the coun­try,” King said. “Our in­spec­tions are dif­fi­cult, so our buses are pretty safe.”

All bus in­spec­tions are pub­lic record. A com­plete sta­tis­ti­cal break­down of school bus in­spec­tion, crashes and pass­ing stopped school bus vi­o­la­tions can be found at www. statepa­trol.ohio.gov.

While in­spec­tors are work­ing to make sure the buses are safe to trans­port stu­dents, pa­trol of­fi­cers are work­ing to make mo­torists aware that as the buses re­turn to the road­ways they need to be on the look­out for chil­dren board­ing and un­board­ing buses.

State law re­quires that mo­torists stop at least 10 feet in front of or be­hind a school bus when flash­ing lights and an ex­tended arm are dis­played. The mo­torist can­not re­sume driv­ing un­til the bus has be­gun to move.

Ac­cord­ing to the OHP, between 2015 to 2017, there were 4,198 driv­ers con­victed of fail­ing to stop for a school bus.

“Safety on the road­way is a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Lt. Larry Roberts, com­man­der of the Chardon High­way Pa­trol Post. “Mo­torists should al­ways ex­er­cise cau­tion while chil­dren are board­ing and ex­it­ing school buses.”

OHP re­minds mo­torists to al­low ex­tra trav­el­ing time for school bus stops.

“Keep­ing chil­dren safe on Ohio’s school buses is a pri­or­ity for the High­way Pa­trol,” Roberts said. “Even though mo­torists are re­quired to stop, as a safety mea­sure chil­dren should al­ways look both ways be­fore cross­ing the street and re­main alert to any sud­den traf­fic changes.”

GRAPHIC BY TIM SIMKO

In­for­ma­tion from Ohio High­way Pa­trol

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