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Virginia school buses missing required safety feature

RICHMOND, Va. — As many as 4,000 school buses in Virginia are missing a brake interlock device — a required safety feature, according to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

The brake interlock helps prevent the school bus’ parking brake from accidentally disengaging, a department spokesperson said.

While the device is required in all school buses purchased in Virginia after 2011, a recent VDOE test on buses purchased from “the leading manufacturers after March 2011… found that none of the vehicles was equipped with the required parking brake interlock.”

The department said it was not aware of any incident in which a student was hurt due to the lack of the brake interlock device.

“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,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said in a statement.

The department is working with school districts to determine how many buses in each city or county need to be retrofitted.

Henrico Schools indicated they had 176 buses that needed to be retrofitted.

Richmond Public Schools said it had about 99 buses that were impacted.

Hanover Public Schools reported 49 affected buses.

Chesterfield County School indicated they had approximately 220 buses impacted. They went on to say they are currently working on a plan to retrofit the buses.

This is a developing story.