Legislation Triggered by Concerns of Vineland School Board
In order to address child safety concerns, Senator Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak announced on Thursday that they plan to introduce legislation that would require school districts to provide transportation for students who are forced to travel along hazardous roads to get to school.
“The state of our roads in the last few years has reached a dangerous peak that threatens to put the safety of our children at risk,” said Van Drew (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “Lack of sidewalks, busy roadways, and blind spots are only a few of the obstacles many schoolchildren face on a regular day. Transportation that will ensure a safer commute should be made accessible.”
Van Drew and Andrzejczak recently met with a subcommittee of the Vineland School Board, which expressed concerns about many of the hazardous routes that children in Vineland must navigate by foot in order to get to school. The bill would mandate districts to provide transportation services for students taking dangerous routes to and from school. Under the bill, the Commissioner of Transportation in consultation with the Commissioner of Education and the local police department would be required to define and designate “hazardous routes” according to population, the amount of traffic along roads, accident data, the types of roadways and highways, and the location of dangerous obstacles such as cliffs, curved roads, train tracks or trestles. In addition, the legislation would allow districts to receive State aid equaling 100 percent of the cost for transportation services.
Furthermore, the Commissioner of Transportation would conduct an annual review to determine whether routes are to continue to be designated as hazardous, according to the bill. Discretionary aid to repair conditions of the most needed roads would also be funded by the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund and determined by the Commissioner. The bill also would provide that when the Commissioner of Transportation determines this aid, he must give highest priority to projects intended to repair conditions on the designated hazardous routes.
“Unfortunately, in many areas of our state, aging infrastructure has exacerbated problems that existed along many of our roadways. While it is crucial to continue efforts that will ensure the construction and repairs of sidewalks, crosswalks, bridges and roads for the safety of New Jersey residents and their families, we have to take action to address safety hazards that affect our children. Providing transportation to students who are forced to travel dangerous routes is a step in the right direction to ensuring their safety,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland).
A 2013 report by the New Jersey State Police found that of the 542 people killed in fatal crashes that year, 132 were pedestrians. The bill seeks to reduce the risk young children and teens face when commuting to school on a daily basis.