Caride & Jimenez Bill to Ensure Safety of Students in Wheelchairs on School Buses Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson) to improve the safety of wheelchair-bound students who are transported on school buses was released Monday by the Assembly Education Committee.

“These students are especially vulnerable,” said Caride, who chairs the committee. “Equipping our school buses with this four-point securement system and requiring bus drivers to ensure that students in wheelchairs are properly secured in the system will make for a safer ride to school.”

“The road can be unpredictable. This helps make school buses safer for students who rely on wheelchairs,” said Jimenez. “Enhancing the safety features on our school buses for students with limited mobility helps ensure that these students get to and from school safely and securely.”

The bill (A-1257) would require school buses transporting students using wheelchairs to be equipped with four-point securement system, and school bus operators to secure the students.

Under the bill, school buses that provide transportation for students using wheelchairs would have to be equipped with a four-point securement system for each student using a wheelchair on the school bus. A four-point securement system is defined as a complete four-point system that includes four wheelchair restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor; a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints; and floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor. Under the bill, students using wheelchairs must be secured using the four-point securement system at all times while the bus is in operation.

The bill would take effect immediately, but shall remain inoperable until September 1 of the second year next following enactment. The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, may take anticipatory acts in advance of the operative date as may be necessary for the timely implementation of this act.