NJ Lawmaker: Kids Deserve to Be Safer in School Buses
Tuesday's deadly school bus crash in Tennessee has turned the spotlight on bus safety, according to New Jersey Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge).
For the past two years, Thompson has been trying to garner support for his bill that would require every new school bus in the Garden State to be equipped with lap and shoulder seat belt restraints.
"We have a law that was passed back in 1992 that requires that they (school buses) have lap seat belts and of course that just goes across the lap," Thompson said.
The idea for the legislation came from recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to Thompson.
"Kids already know how to use these three-point harnesses because they use them in their parent's vehicles. It makes a lot more sense on school bus than it does in your car. In your car you can see what you're kids are doing, school buses are loaded with kids. They can't keep up with what they're all doing," Thompson said. "With the lap seat belt the bus driver can't see whether the kids have the seat belts on or not."
The crash in Tennessee involved a pair of school buses. Two 7-year-old female students and a teacher's aide were killed. Twenty-seven others were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. Seat belts are not required on school buses in Tennessee. It is unclear if either bus in the accident had seat belts.
Thompson said he is not trying to capitalize on a tragedy. He simply wanted to address school bus safety and cited the fact that he first introduced his bill in 2013, but it has yet to receive a committee hearing. Thompson called that, "mind boggling."
"The requirement here is going to be for all new school buses. You're not going to have to go back and retro-fit every bus that's out there," Thompson said.