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St. Louis (KSDK) - ANewsChannel 5 investigation shows because of the issues the National Transportation Safety Board says it found with the way the Missouri Highway Patrol run bus inspections, it's recommending the state to audit the program.

Auditor Tom Schweich says audits are done every four to five years and his office will schedule an audit for later this month.

"We will look at their procedures and make sure they follow those procedures," Schweich said. "And we'll also talk to their people to see if their needs to be reforms or changes to those procedures."

The NTSB says the mechanical problems found with the St. James school buses that crashed on August 5, 2010, were a result of neglected and poorly performed maintenance by Copeland Bus Service.

Which raises a larger question: who's making sure the bus companies school districts contract with, are keeping the buses safe for children?

According to the NTSB, that responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education but found Missouri has no effective oversight in that process, which may explain why students at St. James were riding on "poorly maintained buses."

"The Missouri statutes have no provisions concerning the overall operation of the contracted carrier providing pupil transportation. It is the responsibility of each school district to ensure that the transportation provider adheres to the regulations that apply to drivers and vehicles," The NTSB report says.

The NTSB says it sent a recommendation to Governor Jay Nixon's office to require periodic safety reviews of bus companies. A Nixon spokesperson says they are aware of the recommendations that were made but wouldn't comment further, directing us back the Missouri Highway Patrol. The Patrol says they will look at and consider all recommendations made.

Despite the issues the NTSB identified with the busing operations in Missouri, the Highway Patrol says children are safe on school buses.

"School buses are the safest form of transportation we have in Missouri," said Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Tim Hull.

If you look at the stats, that may be the case. In 2009 and 2010, out of the nearly 2000 school buses that crashed, bus defects only accounted for about one percent of the accidents.

NOTE: The NTSB says the mechanical issues discovered on the buses involved in the deadly Interstate 44 Bus Crash in Gray Summit, Missouri, did not contribute to the crash because the driver of the lead bus did not have time to brake before crashing into the wreck ahead of her. Also, Ray's Tire in St. James that performed what the NTSB says were "inadequate" inspections just 10 days before the accidents had its inspection license revoked for one year by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

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