WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced the formal introduction in the House of Representatives of his bipartisan school bus safety legislation to protect America’s children: H.R. 2792 – the SECURES Act and H.R. 2793 – Miranda’s Law.
Gottheimer also announced that Joevanny Vargas, father of Miranda Vargas, will be visiting Congress in June to meet with Members of Congress as a part of a campaign to push for safer school buses nationwide.
Following the horrific bus crash that occurred in Paramus, NJ, last year, which took the lives of Vargas' daughter, ten-year-old fifth grader Miranda Vargas, and beloved teacher Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy, Gottheimer has remained committed to ensuring every child in every state is protected on their way to school or on a field trip.
“We must strengthen background checks on school bus drivers to protect our children from those, like the driver who drove Miranda’s bus, who have no place getting behind the wheel. And we need to bring three-point seatbelts to school buses nationwide, because the lap belt is a relic of the past.” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We are here to help turn tragedy into hope for other children and families. I’m glad that Miranda’s father, Joevanny, will be joining me in Washington in a few short weeks to tell his story to Members of Congress on why we need to ensure that every child in America is as safe as possible when they’re on the road. Miranda’s Law and the SECURES Act will help save lives and there’s nothing partisan about that.”
“Josh and I are determined to work together to ensure our kids are safer,” said Joevanny Vargas, father of Miranda Vargas “I will remain motivated to see this through for as long as I live. This is commonsense legislation – it’s not about Republicans or Democrats. This is about our kids. That day, it was my child, and tomorrow it could be yours.”
The bipartisan Miranda Vargas School Bus Driver Red Flag Act – or Miranda’s Law – is cosponsored by Congressmembers Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Tom Reed (NY-23), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Dan Kildee (MI-5), Elijah Cummings (MD-7), Albio Sires (NJ-8), and Thomas Suozzi (NY-3), and is named to commemorate Miranda Vargas, one of the victims of last year’s Paramus, NJ, bus crash. The driver of the bus was found to have had more than 14 license suspensions at the time of the crash. Miranda’s Law ensures real-time background checks, so that when a school bus driver has any driving infraction beyond a parking ticket, the school or school bus company will receive an alert about that infraction from the Department of Transportation within 24 hours.
The bipartisan Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards – or the SECURES Act – is cosponsored by Congressmembers Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and Tom Reed (NY-23). The bill requires seat belts on all school buses, makes three-point lap-and-shoulder seat belts the national standard, and encourages innovative measures to ensure students actually wear their seat belts while on school buses.
Bipartisan support for Miranda’s Law:
“No parent should have to worry about their child’s safety when they drop them off at the school bus stop,” said Congresswoman Stefanik (NY-21). “I am proud to stand firmly with the family of Miranda Vargas in believing there should be a zero-tolerance policy for school bus drivers’ driving infractions. These drivers do important work and are responsible for so many lives – we must make absolutely sure that we have the best drivers on the roads transferring our kids to and from school. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill that will save lives and put parents’ minds at ease.”
“Only drivers with impeccable records should be allowed to drive school buses. This bill ensures that employers would know immediately if their drivers with commercial driver licenses have driving-related citations and it will improve safety for all students on school buses,” said Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9).
“We care about ensuring our kids are safe from the moment they get on the school bus in the morning to the moment they arrive at home,” Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23) said. “Not only is it common sense to shed sunshine on the driving records of school bus drivers, it is the fair thing to do for the parents of millions of school age children who worry daily about their child’s safety.”
“There are few things more important than ensuring that our school children make it to and from school each day safely. Requiring bus drivers to have a background check should be standard procedure before we entrust drivers with our children. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to keep our kids safe,” said Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-5).
“When students board a school bus, there should be no doubt that their driver is qualified and safe. Poor oversight of unfit drivers has been a factor in several fatal school bus crashes, including in Baltimore, Maryland,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7). “I am proud to stand with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce legislation to ensure that within 24 hours, driving infractions are reported so that we can keep unsafe drivers from getting behind the wheel of a school bus.”
Bipartisan support for the SECURES Act:
“The data is clear: Seat belts save the lives of people we care about,” said Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23). “Why wouldn’t we require every school bus to have them installed? This is only fair for the parents of millions of school age children who worry daily about their child’s safety every day as they head off to school.”
Read an overview of H.R. 2793 – Miranda’s Law here.
Read an overview of the H.R. 2792 – SECURES Act here.