New Jersey may have the toughest school bus safety laws in the nation, but those laws don't mean much if other drivers on the road fail to do their part in protecting our children.

Touring the state to watch inspectors examine school buses for safety, Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton warned New Jerseyans to be mindful of buses stopping in front of them, and children crossing the street, as schools begin the 2019-2020 academic year.

"Too many kids have been injured or died because an inpatient driver decided to illegally pass a school bus," Fulton said. "No meeting, no event, no appointment, nothing you need to get to is as important as a kid's life."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fulton said, school-bus-related fatalities are 63% more likely to occur outside the bus than inside.

"That's why New Jersey mandates a crossing arm to prevent kids from crossing in front of the bus, and sensors front and back to alert the driver when kids are near the bus out of sight," Fulton said.

More than 50 pedestrians aged 19 and under were killed on New Jersey's roads from 2013 through 2017, according to the New Jersey State Police. The statistics do not indicate whether the deaths occurred during bus pickup or drop-off hours.

Leading up to Labor Day Weekend, the MVC hosted bus-inspection events in Mercer and Passaic counties. Tens of thousands of buses are inspected with a 180-point checklist at least twice annually. Fulton's final stop is scheduled for Wednesday in Camden County.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.