TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Steve Sweeney which would require school bus drivers to check buses for students at the end of routes received unanimous final legislative approval today in the Senate.
“In essence, this bill would legislate responsibility to negligent bus drivers. A bill like this shouldn’t be necessary, but clearly it is,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “Within the past few months, two young children who had been left on school buses were found wandering around lost, cold and alone. Negligent bus drivers must be held responsible for their actions, and that is my intent in sponsoring this bill.
“It’s tragic that we have to legislate common sense, but with the recent events surrounding the two small children being left on school buses it’s clear that we have no choice,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem.
The Senators’ bill, S-328, would impose a penalty for any school bus driver who leaves a student on the bus at the end of a route. A first offense would result in a six month school bus license suspensions, and after a second offense, the bus driver would have his or her license permanently revoked. Any driver found guilty of gross negligence, resulting in the harm or injury of a student that has been left on a bus would have his or her driver’s license permanently revoked.
The legislation was unanimously approved by the full Senate on February 27, 2006. The Assembly amendments include allowing negligent bus drivers an opportunity to be heard prior to being convicted of gross negligence, and making the bill effective immediately after being signed into law.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.