The California Highway Patrol responds to concerns about bus inspections

The California Highway Patrol recently responded to a letter sent by the leaders of the trade groups representing the motorcoach industry asking the law enforcement agency to follow federal law in inspecting commercial passenger vehicles. 

In a letter dated March 17, 2022, Scott Michael and Peter Pantuso wrote the California Highway Patrol (CHP) on behalf of the United Motorcoach Association and American Bus Association members.

The letter addressed the enforcement agency’s continued practice of conducting en route inspections of passenger carriers at Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facilities (CVEF), weight and inspection stations.

CHP responded that the law enforcement agency acknowledged the FAST Act language and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interpretation that “weigh stations are no longer considered a planned stop for the purposes of en route bus inspections.”

California Highway Patrol
The California Highway Patrol’s Cordelia Inspection Facility. (CHP)

The response noted that “both laden and unladen buses are required to enter a CVEF when directed by regulatory signs pursuant to Section 2813 of the California Vehicle Code.”

“Any en route bus inspection, conducted as a result of an inspector-identified obvious or imminent hazard condition is considered an unplanned stop,” CHP letter said. “The CHP continues to direct officers to utilize sound, professional judgment, especially when selecting vehicles for inspections involving passenger transportation.”

CHP compliance ‘remains to be seen’

“It remains to be seen whether the California Highway Patrol is prepared to comply with the Federal statutes,” said UMA President and CEO Scott Michael. 

“The letter spelled out a continuing rationale for en route stops in locations without passenger facilities that we are trying to minimize, but let’s give them a chance. They have a very challenging task keeping our highways safe, and we respect that.”

UMA will continue to engage the California Bus Association as well as UMA Members to assure compliance with federal standards limiting such stops, he added.

In California, the CHP inspection stations are located outside of Gilroy, on northbound 101 and 45 minutes north of the San Francisco Bay area on the way to Reno. The latter is a large facility that has restrooms and space for a few hundred passengers to wait for new buses in case their buses don’t pass inspections. All buses except yellow school buses are required to stop at the stations. 

Some states, including California, require buses as well as trucks to stop at the stations to be weighed and sometimes inspected. Only yellow school buses aren’t required to stop.

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