TRENTON, NJ – A series of school bus safety bills that aim to improve bus safety and accident response, make bus drivers and company’s more accountable and require every student to carry an identification card at school-sponsored, off-campus activities cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Friday. The bills are sponsored by Senator Joseph Lagana, Senate Transportation Committee Chair Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Senator Linda Greenstein.
“The May accident involving a Paramus school bus that tragically killed an East Brook Middle School student and a teacher, in addition to leaving many others injured, was a nightmare scenario,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic), in a press release. “As parents, we should not have to worry about the safety of our children when they are on a school bus. This horrific accident prompted me to ask how the legislature can help to make school buses safer.”
The following bills include:
· S-2754 would require the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with directors of various other relevant departments, to study the safety of school bus passengers in various emergency situations. Following a thorough investigation the commissioner would issue a report to the governor and the legislature summarizing their findings and offering recommendations to improve the safety of school bus passengers. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0. It was sponsored by Lagana and Greenstein.
· S-2848 would require bus drivers to submit proof of physical fitness in the form of a medical examination conducted by a medical examiner recognized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. School bus drivers that are 70 years of age or older would be required to submit proof of physical fitness annually, and drivers over the age of 75 will be required to submit proof every six months. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0. It was sponsored by Diegnan and Lagana.
· S-2851 would require boards of education and contractors that provide school transportation services to designate school bus safety personnel. Safety personnel would be required to ensure that the compliance of state and federal laws, rules and regulations are implemented, that the best training in emergency equipment is provided and that accident avoidance practices regarding school bus safety are followed. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0. It was sponsored by Lagana and Diegnan.
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