TRENTON, N.J. — Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno on Thursday signed into law legislation that sets forth school bus safety precautions for adult students with developmental disabilities.
Under the legislation, when a school bus is picking up or discharging any person with disabilities, including adults, the bus driver is required to use the flashing red lights and other motorists must stop.
The legislation also establishes penalties for violators that are consistent with protections and violations currently in effect for child passengers on school buses.
Guadagno said that by signing the bill into law, the state is not only increasing the safety of people with disabilities, it is also making safety indicators “more consistent for motorists who encounter school buses in their daily travels.”
“Motorists will know without a doubt when they see a school bus come to a stop and lights are flashing, they must stop their vehicles for passengers who are getting on or off the bus,” she added.
The new law also prohibits the driver of the school bus from starting the bus or discontinuing the flashing red lights until every person with a developmental disability who exited the bus has reached a place of safety.
Moreover, it extends penalties for failing to comply with the law. Motorists who pass a school bus stopped with flashing red lights and carrying individuals with disabilities face a fine of no less than $100, could be subject to up to 15 days in jail or could face 15 days of community service. Violators will also receive five points on their driver’s license.
“As the father of an adult daughter with a developmental disability, I know the challenges these individuals face every day,” said Sen. Steve Sweeney, a sponsor of the bill. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we are protecting them from harm whenever and wherever possible. This is really just a commonsense law that will require school bus drivers and motorists to use the same precautionary measures that are used when a school bus is transporting schoolchildren.”