All New Jersey school busses are required to have at least lap seat belts for every passenger. Since 2019, all newer busses must have three point belts for all students.

However, how many kids are buckling-up each day is still a huge question.

Marking the four year anniversary of a deadly school bus crash in Paramus, a New Jersey Congressman is proposing a new federal law to make seat belts mandatory on all school busses nationwide, as well as incentives for compliance.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) has named his legislation "Miranda's Law," after fifth grader Miranda Vargas.

Vargas, who was 10 at the time, was killed on class trip four years ago when the bus she was riding in was hit by a dump truck on Route 80. Teacher Jennifer Williamson also perished in the accident.

"With Miranda’s Law," Gottheimer said in a statement, "We can help ensure that every child in America will be as safe as possible aboard a school bus, and we're giving parents and families more peace of mind."

Miranda’s Law will:

  • Require seat belts on all school buses nationwide;
  • Establish three-point lap-and-shoulder seat belts as the national standard; and,
  • Encourage innovative measures to ensure students actually wear their seat belts while on school buses.

Joevanny Vargas, Miranda's father, met with members of congress last year to try and get their support for school bus safety legislation. "This is not a New Jersey problem," Vargas said at the time, "This is a national problem that needs to be addressed before we're confronted with another tragedy."

The House did pass several school bus safety initiatives as part of a larger transportation bill, but none of those provisions were approved by the Senate.

Gottheimer says he will pursue separate legislation, including the seat-belt law, in hopes of gaining bi-partisan support.

"Miranda’s Law will help save lives," Gottheimer says, "There's nothing partisan about that."

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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