Church buses are not regulated by Tennessee officials

Church buses are not regulated by Tennessee officials

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Owners of church buses are required to register them with the U.S. Department of Transportation and undergo yearly inspections. Owners of church buses are required to register them with the U.S. Department of Transportation and undergo yearly inspections.
"They're under the same requirements as any motor vehicles on a state highway would be, but there is no inspection," said Patrick Carroll, president of Freightliner, a truck manufacturer in Knox County. "They're under the same requirements as any motor vehicles on a state highway would be, but there is no inspection," said Patrick Carroll, president of Freightliner, a truck manufacturer in Knox County.
A Central Baptist Church of Bearden official told 6 News annual inspections are performed and mileage logs are kept. The bus also got new tires. A Central Baptist Church of Bearden official told 6 News annual inspections are performed and mileage logs are kept. The bus also got new tires.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Wednesday's deadly church bus crash in Jefferson County had many people asking how church buses are regulated.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol told 6 News the state does not regulate them but bus owners are required to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation and undergo annual inspections if they travel across state lines.  

THP says the Front Street Baptist Church bus did not have the required U.S. D.O.T. number.  

"They're under the same requirements as any motor vehicles on a state highway would be, but there is no inspection," said Patrick Carroll, president of Freightliner, a truck manufacturer in Knox County.  

The company performs annual federal inspections for commercial vehicles, including church buses.  

"Most of our customers, if not all of our customers frankly, do more safety inspections than they're required to be with the DOT," said Carroll.  

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, church buses are required have an annual inspection, which looks at the brake system, steering, as well as the tires.  

"The DOT inspection is a basic road worthiness guideline," said Carroll.  

6 News checked around to see which area churches had a coach or charter bus similar to the church bus involved in Wednesday's accident in Jefferson County.  

The Central Baptist Church of Bearden church bus was undergoing maintenance Friday at a West Knox County motorbus and RV repair shop.  

A church official told 6 News annual inspections are performed and mileage logs are kept. The bus also got new tires.

Despite the lack of state regulation, Patrick Carroll believes enough regulations are in place. Church bus drivers are also required to have commercial drivers licenses.  

Carroll says even if the Front Street Baptist Church bus was inspected, it may not have made a difference.  

"You can inspect it, and maybe five minutes later, accidentally hit something in the road that caused a blowout, could have run over something in the road to cause a blowout, and the inspection wouldn't have prevented that accident," Carroll said.

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