The factory programmed Thomas Bus light check is a handy system but it just tells you the lights are working. It does not tell you if the circuits from the switches are all working properly. For instance when the driver applies the brake pedal a signal is sent to relay power to the rear brake lights. The automatic system does not test that operation. It’s a quick bulb check for the driver so they know there are no burned out LEDs.
I read a comment from our YouTube channel regarding pre-trips in New York State. A viewer said these auto check light systems are illegal in this state due to the fact that the driver isn’t physically running switches and applying brakes / turn signals to test the complete system. If there was a bad connection down the line somewhere then the automatic light check could give a false indication that the circuit is all right.
I agree with that fact and a true pre-trip needs human interaction from start to finish. The walk around is necessary to get a proper visual assessment of the bus before it goes out on the road. The relationship between the drivers and the maintenance shop is very important. On the shop side we can only fix what is obvious but if a driver misses a minor fault with the engine or brakes etc. that will create a stepping stone to bigger more serious issues. I depend on operators to use their eyes and ears to inform the shop of any defects they come across.
This means piles of pre-trip inspection slips sitting on my desk but that’s fine by me. Once a windshield develops a crack most drivers write this defect up every day. Once the crack reaches twelve inches it’s time for replacement. Drivers may start submitting slips before the defect requires attention which is OK because I don’t want to start splitting hairs on the government inspection specifications and tell them to stop writing up the defect that hasn’t reached the repair or replacement stage.
We want drivers to write anything out of the ordinary simply because if a noise wasn’t there before I want to know about it. We can’t turn a blind eye to anything a driver reports so it’s up to me to investigate and make a decision. I will road test or just look at a problem or complaint just to appease the driver and myself. Don’t take chances with a school bus …that’s a fact!