Majority school buses safe inspectors say
Police officers from the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) of the Department of Public Safety successfully completed the "National Passenger Carrier Strike Force" which was held August 26 - Sept. 6 following a proclamation by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in which he urged "the people of American Samoa to do their part in helping save lives by adhering to federal and local transportation safety rules and regulations."
Last Friday, MCSAP officers were at the OMV compound in Tafuna to carry out inspections of DOE school buses. This followed two weeks of inspections for aiga buses at the Fagatogo Marketplace and the Pago Pago Tennis Courts.
Deputy Police Commissioner Leseiau Laumoli told the Samoa News last Friday that the Passenger Carrier Strike Force is an annual event but inspections are not limited to only those two weeks but instead, they are an ongoing event throughout the year "to ensure that motorists and passengers are safe at all times."
Almost 30 school buses were inspected and only a couple did not pass. "This is a good sign," Leseiau said. "For that many school buses to be inspected and only two to be found with problems, that, to me, is a good inspection."
Leseiau said the inspections are conducted "for the safety of the school children who ride the bus" to and from school and sporting events.
The Deputy Police Commissioner explained, "these inspections are a requirement for the grant program that we are under. We need to conduct these inspections so data can be recorded and sent to the federal grantor so we can justify how the grant money we receive from them is being spent."
In his proclamation, Governor Lolo said the "safety and well-being of passengers and motorists in our territory is a critical part of our government's public safety mission," and in addition to other activities, "this year will include inspections of ASG school buses and privately-owned buses contracted for the purpose of transporting students to and from school to ensure they meet safety standards as required by both federal and our local laws."
Lolo said these informative events will enhance the safety of the territory's roads "as our public safety agencies increase their presence throughout the territory and conduct various levels of inspections to enforce drivers and vehicle compliance with federal and local laws."
Lolo concluded, "I commend the individuals, government entities and community organizations who dedicate their time and efforts to ensuring that transportation safety laws are enforced and followed."
Inspections of school buses and aiga buses included a thorough check of, among other things, brakes, lights, and any kind of leakage. In addition, inspectors also checked the drivers to make sure they hold valid official driver's licenses.
Drivers will soon be tested for alcohol consumption as soon as the proper equipment like breathalyzers arrive. A DPS official told the Samoa News that drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol, no matter what the blood alcohol percentage may be, will be issued a citation that requires them to appear in court. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa have established a threshold making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.
The school buses that did not pass inspections last Friday have been directed to the DOE which is responsible for addressing the problems and getting them fixed. Owners and drivers of privately owned aiga buses that failed inspections have been issued tickets and instructed to fix the problems which include things from expired tags and poor brakes to low-pressure tires.
If a bus does not pass inspection, the driver gets a ticket and the bus is impounded until the owner can make arrangements to get everything squared away.
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