Bill to retest elderly school bus drivers should cover all
Because of the horrific fatal Paramus school bus disaster on Route 80 in May, legislation is moving swiftly in Trenton. One part of the legislative package that's long overdue is having a physical and cognitive medical review once school bus drivers reach a certain age.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved the package last week so it can move forward. Patrick Diegnan, chairman of the committee, says, "In many cases there were issues concerning the operation of the particular bus as opposed to the actual integrity of the bus.”
And why wouldn't there be? Hudy Muldrow, the 77 year old school bus driver in the 80 disaster, by all accounts made a ridiculous decision to cut across all lanes of traffic nearly perpendicular to attempt an illegal U-turn through a cutaway in the median. He still seems to not understand what he did wrong, and it screams for something to finally be done about elderly drivers in this state.
Diegnan says they want to "put in place common-sense procedures, regulations, accountability as to how drivers are chosen, how they are reviewed and how they are qualified to operate the buses. If you’re age 70 we’re now going to require annual physical and cognitive review. If you’re 75 it’s going to be bi-annual.”
Bravo! It's about time.
Now that we're poised to address the issue of elderly school bus drivers, we need to begin thinking about extending this rule to ALL elderly drivers. Interesting to note a AAA Foundation for Safety report showed that more than 70% of seniors polled favored driver screening. Those over 75 years old favored those policies by 75%. 33 states already have some form of retesting for elderly drivers. New Jersey has nothing.
This problem is only going to grow worse if we don't develop some common sense policies. Politicians fearful of losing the elderly vote aren't doing their constituents any favors by allowing them to die tragically on highways. Maybe this school bus driver legislation will get the conversation started.
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