SD Highway Patrol seeks relief from school-bus inspectionsA measure moving through the Legislature would allow the Highway Patrol to approve other people to perform the inspections.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The Highway Patrol doesn’t want to remain the only provider of safety inspections for school buses and public transit buses in South Dakota.
A measure moving through the Legislature would allow the Highway Patrol to approve other people to perform the inspections.
The Senate Transportation Committee recommended the change Wednesday.
The legislation, SB 41, now goes to the full Senate for debate, possibly as soon as Friday afternoon.
The change would open the door for people from bus companies, school districts, maintenance garages and other organizations to become trained and approved by the Highway Patrol.
John Broers, a captain for the patrol’s motor carrier division, said the inspections get crammed into June and July.
“Approximately 1,700 is what we do each summer, in about a three-week period,” he said.
Law enforcement shifts attention to the Sturgis motorcycle rally and races in early August, leaving little time for re-inspections before many school districts begin classes later in the month.
The Highway Patrol will provide training and its manuals to inspectors.
“There are a surprisingly large amount of rules a school bus has to comply with,” Broers said. “These folks are more than qualified. They have their facilities and they have the wherewithal to complete the inspections.”
School districts can tap into each other’s services, he said, and the Highway Patrol will remain available.
“We’re not getting out of the business. We’re allowing more people in,” he said.
Tim Steichen, of the South Dakota School Transportation Association, said the group’s members generally support the change and will be involved in the Highway Patrol’s rule-making process.