TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator Joseph Lagana that would require all school buses manufactured on or after the 180th day following the bill’s enactment to be equipped with three-point lap and shoulder seat belts advanced from the Senate today.
Under current law, school buses are required to be equipped with only lap belts.
The legislative action follows a Senate Transportation Committee hearing on school bus safety after a tragic school bus accident killed a student and a teacher from Paramus’ East Brook Middle School last month. Experts, officials and survivors of the crash addressed the committee and stressed the need for improved safety measures.
“That horrible accident was a terrible wakeup call for us to legislate mandatory installation of seat belts that provide greater protection in the case of an impact,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “We’ve always known that our school buses carry our state’s most precious cargo. And now we are going to do all in our power to keep them safe.”
“During the legislative hearings we heard very moving testimony from a child who survived the crash. He wondered why school buses didn’t have the same kind of seatbelts as his parents’ car which would prevent his head from hitting the back of the seat in front of him,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “I never want to hear a child ask that question again.”
The bill, S-233, cleared the Senate with a 38-0 vote and next heads to the governor’s desk.