Above: Charles County Public Schools mechanic Pat Murphy waves in driver Mary Riedel, who have been driving a school bus for the school system since August 2015. School buses undergo inspection three times a year. Photo property of Charles County Public Schools.

Charles County, MD – Three times a year, school buses that transport Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students are inspected for safety.

Over 11 days, CCPS department of transportation employees, Motor Vehicle Administration personnel and Charles County Sheriff’s Office cadets will look over more than 300 school buses —274 route buses that are on the road every day and 40 spare buses.

“They all come through inspection,” Mike Heim, director of transportation for CCPS, said. Bus inspections are held in August, November and March, he said.

The checks have been going on for decades, said Lt. Michael Groff of the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). He has an inspection book from the 1960s, and other than upgrades like LED lights and some other technologies, not much has changed.

CCPS mechanics Pat Murphy and Gary Stine spent a recent morning checking brakes and engines, while transportation staff looked at the cleanliness of the vehicles and safety equipment. MVA employees stop by once a year to check on the work being done by school system staff, Heim said.

Statewide, there are more than 9,500 school buses on the road, so far this school year MVA employees have seen about 4,500 of them, Groff said.

“Every county in the state, private schools too,” he said about where the buses they inspect are from. “Pretty much every yellow school bus in the state.” School buses have a running life of 12 years, with some receiving an exemption to stay on the road for an additional three years, Groff said.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.