(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez, Daniel Benson, Lisa Swain and Chris Tully requiring new school buses to be equipped with 3-point lap and shoulder safety belts was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee Tuesday.
“Children’s safety should always be our priority,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “This is a clear way for us to improve the safety of our students, so it is absolutely a step we should take.”
The bill (A-4110) is in response to a fatal school bus crash which claimed the lives of 1 student and 1 teacher driving from a Paramus middle school to an off-site historic site approximately 30 miles from the school and comes on the heels of a National Transportation Safety Board report recommending the state to make this legislative change.
“I am proud to co-sponsor this common sense bill to equip our school buses with up-to-date equipment,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “It’s our moral responsibility to learn from this tragedy and enact measures to make our children, teachers and staff safer.”
Under current law, school buses are only required to be equipped with lap-only belts, and this bill would amend this to include a shoulder strap.
“After the tragic crash which senselessly took the lives of 2 innocent souls from my district and injured others, it is clear that our school bus safety standards must change,” said Swain (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We must not allow another tragedy like this to happen again.”
“There is nothing more important to us in the legislature than protecting the lives of our children and students,” said Tully (D-Bergen/Passaic). “After the crash which claimed the lives of 2 of my constituents and injured others, we knew we had to act swiftly to ensure that we can prevent further tragedy.”
Assembly Members Swain and Tully sponsored this legislation shortly after they were sworn into the New Jersey Legislature on May 24.
The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further review.