(TRENTON) – The full Assembly Thursday approved, 75-1, legislation sponsored by Chris Tully, Lisa Swain, and Daniel Benson to study the safety of school bus passengers during a variety of emergency situations.
“School districts should know how to respond in all emergency situations that can happen on a school bus to ensure our children are protected,” said Tully (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Studying the possibilities will help us better prepare our students, drivers and schools.”
The bill (A-4224) would direct the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Superintendent of the Division of State Police, the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, and the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, to study the safety of school bus passengers involved in emergency situations, including, but not limited to, school bus accidents, such as head-on, rear-end, and side-impact collisions, and situations where the school bus may roll over.
“This is the first step to ensuring an emergency response plan is in place for school districts in regards to school bus incidents,” said Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic). “In order to ensure the safety of students on school buses, we have to understand what is being done currently in districts and in the state to respond to such emergencies.”
“Recent tragedies and other bus incidents have made it clear the state needs to look closer at bus safety and emergency response plans concerning school buses,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “This review of school bus emergency response will help us identify important safety improvements that can save lives and obtain critical information quickly in an emergency.”
The study will include an evaluation of the statutory and regulatory requirements relating to school bus safety and the current policies, plans, and procedures implemented by school districts.
The bill also directs the commissioner to prepare and submit to the Governor and the Legislature a report of the study’s findings with recommendations to improve the safety of school bus passengers within 120 days.
The measure was approved Tuesday by the Assembly Transportation Committee. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.