Buckling Up in NJ’s School Buses
Recent school bus accidents in Old Bridge, including one in which several children were injured has prompted one New Jersey Senator to vow to introduce a bill to make school buses safer. The measure, which is being drafted, would require all new school buses to include three-point lap and shoulder seat belts.
"Parents put their children in infant seats and booster seats to make sure they're protected in their own cars, but when they send a child onto a school bus, all the child has is a lap belt to keep them safe from harm," says Sen. Sam Thompson. "Parents shouldn't have to give up the expectation of safety when their children board a bus for a daily ride to school."
The legislation is modeled on initiatives in California and Texas that require all new school buses to include three-point restraints on all seats. Current New Jersey law requires all new school buses to include lap belts, with no requirement that 3-point belts be installed.
"For a long time, many parents didn't think about school bus safety because they never imagined that much harm could come in a short neighborhood ride to school," says Thompson. "An increasing number of New Jersey roads, however, have extremely heavy traffic and can be dangerous for all vehicles, including school buses.”
Two Recent School Bus Crashes
In January, a commuter bus collided with a school bus in Old Bridge, flipping the school bus onto its side. No children were on the bus at the time. Last week, a school bus carrying elementary school students was involved in an accident in Old Bridge, resulting in several injuries.