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To:                   All Superintendents and Transportation Directors


From:               J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner


Subject:            School Bus Inspections


Date:                March 12, 2003



School bus inspections are a critical process in our collective efforts to assure that our school buses are in safe operating condition for everyday use.  School bus inspections are required four times annually, twice to be conducted by licensed mechanics and twice by the Maine State Police.  The inspections are intended to be rigorous and detail oriented.  The Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual provides the standards that must be followed by the licensed mechanics conducting the inspection.  All inspections must be documented and all defects, including those that represent serious safety concerns, which are identified, must be corrected in a timely fashion or the bus with uncorrected defects must be put out of service until repairs can be made. 


            Recently, we have become aware of circumstances relating to some inspections that are of great concern.  A review of the defect reports resulting from two recent school bus inspections conducted by the Maine State Police reveals that up to 32% of the buses in these school districts were found to be operating with out-of-service level defects.  Obviously, this is unacceptable and should serve as a red flag for the State's fleet.


            As you know, transportation of students in school buses is the safest form of highway transportation available.  Through your sound leadership and support, I know that you will continue to provide oversight to this area of safety.  There is never an acceptable reason to transport school children in a bus that has not been properly inspected by a licensed inspection mechanic or that has a defect that diminishes the ability of the bus to operate in a safe manner. 


I appreciate your immediate attention to the inspection requirement to ensure that the school buses used to transport students in each of your school districts are properly inspected so that they are safe each and every day that you transport your students to and from school.