Nearly 100 school buses in Southwest Virginia in need of parking brake safety device

WASHINGTON COUNTY, VA (WJHL) – Days before the end of the school year, administrators are scrambling to figure out just how many buses in their fleets will have to be repaired because of a “brake interlock” requirement on Virginia School buses purchased after March of 2011.

Number of School buses in need of brake repairs in Southwest Virginia

The brake interlock is a safety device that prevents the parking brake from being accidentally disengaged

“What it does is, the driver has to sit in the seat and push the brake pedal with their foot before the parking brake valve can be released. if they are not in the drivers seat or pressing the brake pedal the air valve will not release,” Associate Director of Pupil Transportation for Virginia Schools Kerry Miller said.

In a recent release, The Virginia Department of Education says about 4,000 buses are impacted by the interlock brake problem. Local school leaders say they expect to have all the buses repaired and ready by the time the new school year begins.

“We have worked with our distributor, the company that we buy our buses from, we are working on a schedule to get those brakes fixed over the summer,” Keith Perrigan said.

Bristol, Virginia School Superintendent Keith Perrigan says bus operation managers have checked all of their problem buses just to make sure students are not at risk.

In Bristol, Virginia Schools there are 5 buses that need to be repaired.  Buchanan County has 9, while Dickenson County Schools has 8 buses in need of repair.

Lee County,Virginia Schools has one bus in need of repairs. Russell County, Virginia School has 5, while Scott County Schools are reporting 8 buses in need of brake repairs.

Wise County Schools has 6 and Washington county Virginia Schools has the majority with 47 buses that will have to be repaired before school starts back in the Fall.

In a statement from state Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephen Staples said “The safety of students is the department’s highest priority and the department will work with school divisions, manufacturers and school bus dealers to make sure that all non-compliant buses are brought into full compliance with the state board of education’s equipment specifications as quickly as possible.”

Bus manufacturers in Virginia have been told by the state department of education to make sure that interlock devices have been installed and are working on all new buses delivered to schools in Virginia.

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