According to The Arizona Republic, there are only five DPS troopers devoted to inspecting more than 7,000 school buses operated by school districts and charter and private schools across Arizona. DPS uses other officers to help with the largest or most-remote fleets.
A nationwide review found that the state lacks the oversight measures that other states with lower failure rates say have helped foster a stronger culture of preventative maintenance among schools.
In California, for example, school bus inspections average an hour and cover more than 100 different items.
The Arizona inspections are pre-scheduled with school districts each year. As a result, school districts know ahead of time when the inspectors are coming, giving them time to prepare. Troopers can conduct surprise inspections in response to complaints submitted to them, but those types of inspections are rare.
The state considers the annual inspections required of all school buses as “spot checks.”
That is left to the schools. Schools are allowed to determine for themselves how often they make a comprehensive check of any defects on their bus fleets. It could be every 3,000 miles. It could be every 12,000 miles.
Read Paul Novak’s blog on the report for background on the Arizona school bus inspection program.