TRENTON — More than half of the 44,000 school vehicles inspected by the state Motor Vehicle Commission during the 2016-2017 academic year were either taken out of service temporarily or given 30 days to fix their flaws.

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According to MVC Chief Administrator Raymond Martinez, New Jersey has a very stringent inspection program. Twice a year, the state's registered school vehicles — including buses, vans and others — are inspected using a 180-point checklist. Spot checks, in conjunction with local or State Police, are performed in addition to scheduled inspections.

"We know parents have a lot of things to think about when they're sending their most important cargo to school — being on the school bus is not one of the things we want them to worry about," Martinez told New Jersey 101.5.

An inspection consists of the routine headlight and brake checks, but unique bus components key to student safety — such as exit signs and accompanying lighting — also require a scan.

Most smaller violations, even if issued a 30-day rejection sticker, are addressed on the spot and reinspected, Martinez noted.

"On more serious shortcomings, those buses are taken immediately off the road. They are not allowed to transport children until that is fixed," he said. "Steering issues, brake issues, windshields, emergency exits — anything like that is certainly going to result in a school bus not being allowed to transport children."

Every violation is noted on the state's School Bus Report Card, available at the MVC website. By typing in your location, you can see the pass/fail rate of each bus company in the area, as well as specific issues with individual vehicles.

Inspections during the 2016-2017 school year resulted in 21,378 vehicles temporarily placed out of service. Another 6,142 were issued 30-day rejection stickers. Upon re-inspection, approximately 91 percent were deemed safe to hit the road again.

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