TRENTON, N.J. — New school buses in New Jersey would have to be equipped with sensors to alert the driver of objects — namely, children — in front or in back of the bus, under a bill being considered again by state lawmakers.
The legislation, A-1455, was passed by the Assembly Education Committee in a 9-0 vote on Monday.
The bill is named "Abigail's Law" for Abigail Kuberiet, a 1-year-old girl who was killed in 2003 at the front of a stopped school bus in South Plainfield, New Jersey.
"The use of available technology will facilitate safe driving and prevent fatal accidents," said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, a primary sponsor of the bill and chair of the Assembly Education Committee. "When an alarm sounds if a child is in the vicinity of the bus, the operator will immediately be made aware of the situation and will not move forward, and a life will be saved."
The sensors would have to conform to regulations approved by the State Board of Education, in consultation with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
"Regardless of how much we teach the importance of school bus safety to children, accidents can happen in just the blink of an eye," said Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, another primary sponsor of the bill. "Putting sensors on buses simply is an additional step that can help reduce the likelihood of an accident and keep children in New Jersey safe."
“Abigail’s Law” has been introduced in previous legislative sessions but has not been passed.
If the act is approved and signed into law this time around, the sensor mandate would go into effect after 180 days for newly manufactured school buses.