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Prieto, Mainor & Jimenez Bill to Make Jitneys Safer for Riders, Hold Operators Accountable Now Law
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson), Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) and Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson) to make "jitneys" or autobuses safer by holding owners and operators accountable for ensuring the safety of riders and the public has been signed into law.
The law (A-4546) establishes a Bill of Rights for Customers of Certain Autobuses.
The measure, designated as Angelie's Law, is named after 8-month-old Angelie Paredes, who was killed by a lamppost that was struck by a jitney driver who was using his cell phone.
"These autobuses are convenient, but seem to operate with little accountability, which makes them dangerous. This lack of responsibility cost a little girl her life," said Prieto. "This bill of rights spells out expectations for operators and drivers to ensure the safety of riders and the public."
"I rode a jitney last year and saw how often safety takes a back seat to profit, for some of these drivers. These operators are responsible for the safe transport of riders, safe being the key word," said Mainor. "We cannot allow them to continue to play Russian roulette with the lives of their costumers."
"Many working families depend on these autobuses as an inexpensive means to get to and from work, but shouldn't forfeit their safety for it," said Jimenez. "These autobuses have operated with impunity for too long. If public safety is not a priority for them, this law ensures that it becomes so."
The bill of rights created by the law provides customer protections, obligations of the owners and operators of autobuses, and basic expectations and guarantees of health, safety, and welfare as follows:
The law also prohibits an owner of an autobus from allowing any operator of an autobus from operating an autobus without a valid commercial driver license. The penalty for a violation is a fine of $1,500 for a first violation, $3,000 for a second violation, and $5,000 for a third or subsequent violation. Prior to this law, a driver who operated a commercial motor vehicle without a valid commercial driver license would be subject to a fine, but the owner of the vehicle would face no penalty.
Finally, the law requires a police officer to obtain a blood sample from an operator of an autobus if the autobus is involved in an accident resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of any person. However, the police officer is not required to obtain a blood sample if the police officer determines that the operator of the autobus did not contribute in any way to the accident.
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