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Swain, Tully, Benson, Jones 4-Bill Package Reinforcing School Bus Safety for Student Riders Gets Assembly Panel OK to Advance

(TRENTON) – Continuing to strengthen state policies concerning school transportation, an Assembly panel Monday advanced four bills sponsored by Assembly members Lisa Swain, Chris Tully, Daniel Benson, and Patricia Egan Jones that would expand current law to keep students safe on school buses.

The four-bill package was introduced in response to the bus incident on Route 80 in Morris County involving Paramus students from Assembly member’s Swain and Tully legislative district.

“Student safety is our top priority and these four bills are the next steps to ensuring proper school bus protocols are in place to protect students,” said Swain (D- Bergen, Passaic). “Parents, students and teachers should feel confident in the safety of our school buses whether as a way to get to school or for a school trip.”

“We’re continuing to address concerns raised by parents and teachers over the last few months as a result of this bus tragedy, which deeply affected our community,” said Tully (D- Bergen, Passaic). “There is more to be done to protect student bus riders and upgrading New Jersey law ensures this is less likely to happen again.”

“Having these safeguards in place will protect our students riding on school buses,” Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “Safety is and must always be a priority when transporting our students to and from school. Each of these bills aims to strengthen transportation policy and state law to ensure safety is remains paramount in school districts across the state.”

Swain, Tully and Benson are also sponsors of the new law requiring three-point lap belt on school buses signed into law just before the start of the school year.

Included in the 4-part legislative package are the following bills:

· A-4339(Swain/Tully/Benson/Jones) – Requires school bus operations in State to comply with certain federal regulations.

· A-4342(Tully/Swain/Benson/Jones) – Requires public school student to carry identification card at school-sponsored, off-campus activities and requires principal to keep list of students on school buses used for school-sponsored activities in case of emergencies.

· A-4344(Swain/Jones/Tully/Benson) – Requires employing board of education or school bus contractor, within 24 hours of notification that school bus driver’s license is suspended or revoked, to verify to DOE that driver is no longer operating school bus.

· A-4346(Tully/Swain/Benson/Jones) – Requires school bus drivers to submit medical certificate to MVC to prove continuing physical fitness and to submit to medical examination that includes certain screenings.

“Families deserve our full attention to the questions raised after the Paramus incident,” Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Aligning state law with federal law and requiring certain medical screenings for drivers are two important steps toward ensuring stronger protections for student passengers.”

Each bill will now be considered by the Assembly Speaker for a floor vote.