Back to school: maintaining buses with emphasis on safety

WATE 6 Focus

As hard as it is to believe, summer break is coming to an end and that means kids all across East Tennessee will be heading back to the classroom. For thousands of those kids, that also means a return to riding the school bus.

Recently, we caught up with Gerald Roe a Shop Foreman for Gentry School Buses in Knox County. Roe, who also serves as a school bus driver, tells us no bus goes out beginning on day one without a thorough inspection. “We want the maintenance to be perfect,” says Roe.

“As far as changing the oil, making sure all tires are up to par ready to go, checking all breaks, undercarriages. We have lifts we put these buses on and walk them from front to back… Maintenance is the number one topic.”

Gerald Roe, Gentry School Buses foreman

That mindset carries on throughout the school year as drivers not only have their own observations but also new technology to assist them in making sure their buses are in tip-top shape.

“Knox County equipped us with a Zonar System. Basically what it is is a GPS tracking device that tells you about everything from back to front on this bus. If we ever have a problem, they can pull the records.. files.. anything like that and print them out,” says Roe.

Roe tells us that on average, a school bus will cover anywhere from 20-to-40 miles on a normal route. Over time, problems can arise but he says that’s why it’s important for the drivers to take the time to report any issues concerning the operation of their vehicle. “The driver writes up what we call a DVIR and it’s turned into me,” says Roe, “Anything from a light out to anything that needs to be changed or checked. I will take that and I will hand that work order out and or perform the maintenance myself.”

He adds, problems will happen but ” if we can prevent that and head it off. Have a safe year… that’s what we shoot for… is to have a safe year 110%.”

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