TRENTON — Acting Governor Kim Guadagno today signed legislation to require school buses transporting disabled adults to use flashing lights and to penalize motorists who fail to stop.
“School districts are allowed to use their buses to transport seniors and other adults with disabilities,” explained State Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington.) “This law ensures that the same safety requirements that apply to the transportation of children would be in place for all other passengers, especially those crossing highways to board or after disembarking.”
Drivers approaching or overtaking the school bus are required to stop at least 25 feet from a school bus that has activated its flashing lights. This bipartisan law prohibits school bus operators from starting the bus or discontinuing flashing red lights until every person who may have alighted from the bus has reached a place of safety. Those driving slower than 11 miles per hour can pass a school bus used to transport persons with disabilities, if the bus is parked on the side of the highway on which it is discharging or receiving passengers.
First-time violators face $100 maximum fines and imprisonment or community service for 15 days. Subsequent violations carry maximum $250 maximum fine and 15 days in prison.
“This law signing is a major step in protecting everyone being transported, picked up and dropped off by school buses, but there is still work to be done to that end,” Allen concluded. “Penalties for violations must be increased to a more reasonable level, so this law is taken most seriously. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues from across the aisle to achieve that end.”
Allen is also co-sponsoring S-1535 to double fines for illegally passing a school bus to $200 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent violations. It awaits a hearing by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
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