New state law adds requirements to church bus inspections

Law doesn't take effect until 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - Tennessee officials and the federal government were looking into what caused a church bus full of Hoosier teens to crash in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday.

One person was killed in the wreck and several others were taken to the hospital with injuries after the multi-vehicle crash.

Indiana State Police has a regular inspection program in place for school buses -- they even have a database with records they post online. But when it comes to church buses, the rules and inspection process get murky.

Federal law says churches are supposed to get their buses inspected by a mechanic, but the Call 6 Investigators found there’s no requirement for the church to submit that paperwork to the federal government.

The Brazil, Indiana church bus involved in the wreck was carrying 18 people when it crashed.

Authorities were looking into a possible mechanical problem because the bus ran a red light and smashed into a car. The driver of that car was pronounced dead at the scene.

If traveling across state lines, church buses are required by federal law to have a United States Department of Transportation number, but it was unclear if this bus had that in place.

Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, authored legislation this past session that requires Indiana State Police to establish a program for private bus inspections.

Wyss authored the bill in response to a deadly church bus crash last summer.

"Most parents and the public understand that if we're going to have something that we license as a state, we should make sure there are standards there -- especially when you're going to be hauling individuals other than your own," Wyss said.

The law, which doesn’t take effect until 2015, says private bus owners would be required to show the Bureau of Motor Vehicles proof of an inspection in order to register the bus.

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