Every morning during the school year, men and women wake up before dawn to transport children to school in a school bus. I did this for nearly 15 years without a single accident or traffic violation, along with many other drivers who were totally professional and safety conscious.
Yet, I know very well the temptation every driver faces early in the morning, just after only a few hours of sleep, and only minutes to spare before the meticulously timed route must begin. It’s the temptation to do a quick pre-trip inspection.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing a pre-trip inspection quickly; that’s a good thing, for it saves time AND money. But on the other hand, doing an inspection quickly just to be done with it is NOT a good thing, for it can lead to catastrophic results.
Vehicle sizes and styles vary greatly from state to state, precinct to precinct, school to school. But one thing that is required of every man or woman with a Certified Drivers License (CDL) is to do a step-by-step detailed inspection of their bus before leaving the lot. This means an inside, outside, and even underside inspection of everything from lights, bumpers, doors, and horns, to seat cushions, first aid kits, and tread depth on the tires.
There’s literally over 100 things that must be checked off a list before any school bus heads out to pick up a single child.
And here’s the thing: as long as you “check all the boxes,” you’re legally covered if there is an accident. But if all you do is check the boxes, and if a child gets injured or killed, what was legally acceptable won’t heal the sick or raise the dead.