Side-view cameras and QR codes coming to school buses

KENT COUNTY, Mich. – Two new improvements are en route for school bus inspections and safety: QR codes will be on buses across the state for anyone to scan to find out its current inspection condition; then, Forest Hills Transportation Center is installing side-view video cameras to deter drivers from speeding by.

Forest Hills Public Schools Transportation Supervisor Darryl Hofstra told FOX 17 the district plans to install side-view cameras on their school buses in the next couple of weeks. Hofstra said they will provide the video surveillance of any driver passing a stopped bus to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in hopes of improving student and bus safety.

As for school bus inspections, according to the Pupil Transportation Act, that Michigan State Police enforces, buses are inspected once throughout their annual cycle between Sep. 1 and Aug. 31 every year.

Yet for many districts like Forest Hills, Hofstra said vehicle maintenance is year-round. During the summer buses are also cleaned, resurfaced, and repaired as part of their extensive preventative maintenance plan.

“Obviously we live in a pretty rough climate in the winter time with all of the salt and whatnot on the roads, and that becomes a problem over time, as the vehicles age,” said Hofstra. “So we have to take extra measures to make sure that bus is going to last its 12-year cycle and be safe that entire time.”

Sergeant Mike McLaughlin heads the MSP School Bus Inspection Unit. McLaughlin said the inspection process provides a “one-day snapshot” of a fleet’s condition, but as of Sept. 1, he said that access will improve when all inspections become web-based.

Then starting mid-September, anyone with a smart phone can scan QR codes on a school bus to find out its current inspection condition and what district it is assigned to.

“If you happen to notice a QR code on the service door of a school bus, feel free to scan that, and look at the information,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said about 90 percent of buses pass inspection: about two percent yellow tag and have 60 days to be repaired, and then about eight to nine percent red tag, meaning they are taken off the roads until repaired.

“They’ll go check the outside of the bus for ID lettering, all the lights are working, check underneath the bus, inside the bus, and under the hood and undercarriage,” said McLaughlin. “It’s a pretty thorough inspection.”

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