Senator Wants Shoulder Seat Belts In New School Busses

TRENTON — State Sen. Sam Thompson said that recent school bus accidents in Old Bridge, including a crash in which several children were injured, has prompted his introduction of legislation to make school buses safer. The bill, which is being drafted for introduction, would require all new school buses to include three-point lap and shoulder seat belts.

“Parents put their children in infant seats and booster seats to make sure they’re protected in their own cars, but when they send a child onto a school bus, all the child has is a lap belt to keep them safe from harm,” said Thompson (R-Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean). “Parents shouldn’t have to give up the expectation of safety when their children board a bus for a daily ride to school.”

In January, a commuter bus collided with a school bus on Route 9 in Old Bridge, flipping the school bus onto its side. Luckily, no children were on the bus at the time.

Just last week, a school bus carrying elementary school students was involved in an accident on Route 516 in Old Bridge, resulting in several injuries.

Thompson noted that his legislation is modeled on initiatives in California and Texas that require all new school buses to include three-point restraints on all seats.

“For a long time, many parents didn’t think about school bus safety because they never imagined that much harm could come in a short neighborhood ride to school,” added Thompson. “An increasing number of New Jersey roads, however, have extremely heavy traffic and can be dangerous for all vehicles, including school buses. A parent wouldn’t drive down Route 9 without their child strapped in tightly in the back seat, and they shouldn’t expect their son or daughter to be any less protected in the school bus driving down the highway next to them.”

Current New Jersey law requires all new school buses to include lap belts, with no requirement that 3-point belts be installed.

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