Channel 11 investigates: Are your kids' school buses safe?

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PITTSBURGH - Parents trust them to bring their children to school every day, so Channel 11 got a firsthand look at what it takes to make sure school buses are safe.

State police check every school bus before the first day of school, and Trooper Mike Reinhart showed us exactly what they look for.

“We'll go through the list, like we did on the inside there,” he explained.

His list is extensive, and he looks for items on board and underneath the bus.

“We want to make sure people's children are traveling back and forth to school in a safe manner,” said Trooper Steve Limani.

Figures obtained by Channel 11 show about 400 buses have been inspected in the Westmoreland County area this school year.

Half of them received warnings that were fixed on the spot.

Twenty buses, however, needed extensive work.

“What happens is if there's a red flag with a bus, we'll red flag the bus and then we'll come out and do a second inspection with the bus make sure it is fixed and the problems remedied,” Limani explained.

The most common violations include burned out lights, broken emergency alarms and bad seats.

State police said there have been improvements in general in bus inspections ever since school districts began to move transportation needs out of house.

“These bus companies, they're in the business of hauling children. That's it,” said Limani. “When you talk about a school district, they're in the business of educating the children.”

Safety doesn’t stop after the first day of school.

Surprise checks can happen throughout the year.

Channel 11 News was there when the fleet from Pennsylvania Coach Lines was inspected. The owner said that all of their buses passed inspection.