PHOENIX — The number of school buses in Arizona that flunked safety inspections nearly doubled from 2013 to 2015.
Almost three out of 10 school bus safety inspections conducted by the state last year resulted in a failure because of a major defect, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/2caP0K5). By comparison, the failure rate is 2.7 percent in California; 12 percent in Utah; and 15 percent in New Mexico.
According to the Department of Public Safety, failed buses have to clear a follow-up inspection before they’re allowed to transport students.
Failures resulted from cracked and rotted tires, broken emergency exits, unsecured seats and defective emergency brakes, among other violations.
When informed of The Republic’s findings, Gov. Doug Ducey instructed the Department of Public Safety to “take a very thorough look at our current practices” to see what needs improvement, said Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s spokesman.
“It certainly looks like this is an area where there needs to be additional attention and study into how we can be providing greater safety to children in our schools,” Scarpinato said.
Officials in school districts with particularly high failure rates say diminishing state funding has stopped them from buying new buses to replace old ones.
Roosevelt Elementary School District in south Phoenix has the highest bus inspection failure rate in Maricopa County. Its superintendent Jeane Koba said the district takes school bus safety seriously.
Robert Berkstresser, a California-based school bus consultant, said the high rate of safety inspection failure is alarming.
“When the Department of Public Safety comes in and finds that five buses had brakes that were out of adjustment, well, that didn’t happen two hours before those folks came in to do the inspections,” Berkstresser said. “So you can’t tell me that the buses weren’t out there on the road being operated in a safe condition.”
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com