Passing grade: Local school buses put to the safety test

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AMHERST, Ohio – It’s back to school season in Northeast Ohio as state inspectors work to ensure a safe trip to and from school on school buses in the state.

Safety is the top priority, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol Lieutenant John Thompson. He oversees bus inspections in several communities where each year, his team goes through every bus and conducts a thorough check.

“There’s no doubt, the school bus is known to be the safest mode of transportation for our children,” said Lt. Thompson. “We would rather see them in a school bus than have their parents drive them - and it’s because of the construction standards and the upkeep and everything on these buses.”

Wednesday was the first day of the new school year in the Amherst School District where Fritz Grubic has been a bus mechanic for several years.

“We don’t wanna have is a road call, that’s the way I look at our maintenance program, I don’t want any road calls, I don’t wanna see any buses on the side of the road with kids on them,” said Grubic.

Before any district in the state can board kids on buses, they evaluate each one before the Ohio State Highway Patrol gives the final approval.

“We do everything from looking at the minor lights on it to looking to make sure the seats don’t have a bunch of holes, there’s no rust through the body where somebody can cut their finger, to getting right underneath there and checking the drive train, checking the brakes, the tires, all the suspension, everything on the bus,” said Lt. Thompson.

In Amherst, they have 22 school buses on the road each day and there are approximately 2,000 students in the district. According to the transportation supervisor, more than half of those students ride the bus.

“If we would see one of these buses going down the road without a sticker, at that point, we would stop them because they’re not allowed to have children on the bus,” said Lt. Thompson.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol does the annual inspections but they also do random visits throughout the year to make sure each bus is ready for its precious cargo.

“My son rides the bus and definitely, I wouldn’t put him out there if they weren’t safe and these guys make sure,” said Grubic, the mechanic in Amherst.

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