‘Abigail’s Law’ Would Require Sensors on School Vehicles
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick Diegnan, Gabriela Mosquera, Ralph Caputo, Mila Jasey and Raj Mukherji to establish new standards to improve school bus safety was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.
The bill (A-1455), to be known as “Abigail’s Law,” would require newly-manufactured school buses to be equipped with motion sensors to determine the presence of persons or objects passing in front of or behind a bus.
The legislation is in honor of Abigail Kuberiet, a child who tragically lost her life in 2003 standing in front of a stopped school bus in South Plainfield. The bus operator was unable to see the child from the driver’s seat.
“The use of available technology will facilitate safe driving and prevent fatal accidents,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “When an alarm sounds if a child is in the vicinity of the bus, the operator will immediately be made aware of the situation and will not move forward, and a life will be saved.”
Children are more likely to be killed as pedestrians outside a school bus, and most often by their own school bus, according to the National Coalition for School Bus Safety. The majority of these accidents involve very young children.
“Regardless of how much we teach the importance of school bus safety to children, accidents can happen in just the blink of an eye,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Putting sensors on buses simply is an additional step that can help reduce the likelihood of an accident and keep children in New Jersey safe.”
“The primary purpose of a school bus is making sure students get to and from school safely,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “This legislation will allow buses to better serve that purpose for the benefit of children all across New Jersey.”
“School transportation-related accidents involving small children are always some of the most tragic,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “This simple, life-saving technology can help protect students, drivers and pedestrians and prevent another New Jersey family from losing a child.”
“Just like the seat belts, flashing lights and extended stop arms with which school buses already are equipped, motion sensors are a safety feature that can decrease the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities involving buses,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Unfortunately, we can’t predict when and where an accident will happen, but we can and should do all that we can to make school transportation vehicles as safe as possible.”
The bill, which the Assembly passed unanimously, now awaits further Senate consideration.