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Measure To Require Safety Personnel on NJ School Buses Approved by Assembly Panel

Legislation to require boards of education and school bus contractors to employ school bus safety personnel was approved by an Assembly panel today. The bill was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Chris Tully, Lisa Swain and Patricia Egan Jones.

“Hundreds of children ride the school bus every day in New Jersey. Safety is paramount,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “A safety manager on staff to ensure compliance and communication of district transportation to schools will be a critical part in making sure regulations are followed.”

Earlier this year, six measures were signed into law bolstering school safety regulations sponsored by Swain, Tully and Benson as a result of the investigation into a school bus accident in Paramus last May.

This bill addresses concerns raised after the accident of an apparent disconnect between student transportation and the school districts. To help bridge the gap in communication, the bill (A-4343) would designate someone as a school bus safety manager.

“After seeing firsthand the way this tragedy affected the Paramus community, Assemblywoman Swain and I knew necessary reforms were needed to protect children on school buses,” said Tully (D- Bergen, Passaic). “A school bus safety manager is an critical component to improving safety for riders.”

“We have made school bus safety our top priority because what happened in Paramus should not occur again,” said Swain (D- Bergen, Passaic). “This bill is another measure that will help children and their parents feel safer when riding the school bus.”

“We’ve done a lot in the Assembly this year to strengthen protections for our children who ride school buses,” said Jones (D- Camden, Gloucester). “This is another step in the right direction for New Jersey’s children.”

Under the bill, a school bus safety manager’s responsibilities would include: ensuring compliance with State and federal laws, rules, and regulations regarding school bus safety; providing periodic training in the proper use of emergency equipment; and the application of industry best practices for avoiding accidents.

The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.

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