In a few weeks, when school buses once again are a familiar sight on Wisconsin streets and highways, their precious passengers will be riding in some of the safest vehicles on the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest form of transportation for getting students to and from school. On average nationally, nearly 500 students, ages 5 to 18, are killed each year in passenger vehicle crashes during school hours, and 74 percent of those fatalities involve teen drivers. In contrast, four school-aged children are killed each year while riding in school buses.
To help maintain this commendable safety record, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Division of State Patrol inspects every school bus in Wisconsin every year for a total of about 11,000 inspections annually. In addition to annual examinations of all school buses, the State Patrol conducts spot checks and presale inspections.
State Patrol inspectors are well-trained professionals, who can identify a variety of potential safety problems. They closely examine brakes, steering, lights, electrical systems and other required safety equipment during each inspection.
“Our inspectors use their knowledge and experience to protect children,” says State Patrol Lieutenant Karl Mittelstadt of the Motor Carrier Enforcement Section. “Thousands of students, from kindergarten through high school, ride buses to school each day. Many others ride school buses on field trips or to extracurricular activities, like sporting events. It’s our job to help make sure that every school bus is ready to do its job safely.”