Gaps in bus laws are safety risk

State inspections on 'honor system'
By R. G. Dunlopand, Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal

Gaps in federal and state regulations could be putting bus passengers at risk.

Although buses are required by state and federal law to undergo annual inspections, for instance, no proof of inspection is required at registration, The Courier-Journal has found.

And it was a Louisville church bus with no record of ever being inspected that was responsible for sickening half a dozen children earlier this month. Emergency workers said the children suffered symptoms consistent with carbon-monoxide poisoning.

In addition, neither the state nor the federal government tracks the number of privately owned buses in Kentucky that need inspections or whether they are being inspected, the paper found.

The result is that a bus that does not undergo an inspection or fails is unlikely to be caught unless it has a chance roadside encounter with law enforcement, a random safety audit or a complaint.

"As far as state inspection is concerned, it's basically an honor system," said Maj. Glynn Powers of the Kentucky Department of Vehicle Enforcement. "We can't go behind these vehicles to make sure they got the inspection done. There's a whole lot more buses than there are of us."

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