Safety

New Jersey Law to Require 3-Point Seat Belts on New School Buses

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on August 27, 2018
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that upgrades the requirement for seat belts on new school buses from lap-only belts to lap-shoulder belts. File photo courtesy of Elk Grove (Calif.) Unified School District
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that upgrades the requirement for seat belts on new school buses from lap-only belts to lap-shoulder belts. File photo courtesy of Elk Grove (Calif.) Unified School District

PARAMUS, N.J. — Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law on Saturday legislation requiring new school buses to be equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts, an upgrade from the previous law, which requires only lap belts on all school buses.

Bill A4110, which the law is based on, was created in response to the Paramus East Brook Middle School bus crash, which killed a teacher and a student. On May 17, a school bus carrying 38 students and seven adults from Paramus Public Schools collided with a dump truck on a highway. Teacher Jennifer Williamson, who taught at East Brook Middle School for more than 20 years, and 10-year-old student Miranda Vargas died in the crash.

As previously reported, the bus driver involved in the crash, Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, was apparently attempting to make a U-turn. He was charged with two counts of reckless vehicular homicide/death by auto.

“We will never know if a three-point belt would have saved the lives of Miranda Vargas and Jennifer Williamson, or whether they would have prevented serious injury to so many others on May 17,” Murphy said in a news release posted by his office. “Every child and every educator and adult chaperone deserves our best effort to protect their safety and the best possible chance of emerging unharmed in the unfortunate event of a school bus accident. For Miranda and Mrs. Williamson and for all the children in New Jersey and for their families and communities, I am honored to sign this legislation.”

A4110, which modifies existing law, P.L.1992, c.92., requires school buses to have a lap-shoulder belt or other child restraint system for each seat on the bus in conformity with federal standards.

The legislation takes effect immediately and applies to school buses manufactured on or after 180 days of Murphy’s signature.

“We know that lap belts are not enough to keep kids safe in a school bus crash,” said Sen. Sam Thompson. “That’s why I’ve worked hard over the past five years to have New Jersey’s school buses equipped with three-point seat belts. I’m glad that Governor Murphy has signed this measure into law.”
 
"Following the bus accident that tragically took the lives of a Paramus student and teacher, I called for legislative hearings to improve safety,” said Sen. Joseph Lagana. “We heard moving testimony from a family friend of mine that survived the crash. He wondered why school buses didn’t have the same kind of seat belts as his parents’ car that came with over the shoulder seat belts. With the signing of this bill into law, we are ensuring our children will be protected the way they deserve."

“The May bus crash was a tragic reminder of how vulnerable our students are while riding on school buses,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain. “Cars are equipped with seat belts and for good reason. They can prevent fatalities and minimize injuries. I’m happy that this bill, one of my very first as a representative of this community, is now law, and will help keep our students safe by requiring three-point lap and shoulder seat belts in all school buses.”

Also in response to the fatal crash in May, the Paramus Public Schools’ Board of Education voted in June to add three-point belts to an order of four buses it had planned to purchase before the crash.

View an announcement and video on Facebook from Gov. Murphy on signing the bill below.

Related Topics: fatalities, legal issues, New Jersey, seat belts

Nicole Schlosser Executive Editor
Comments ( 9 )
  • bus #2

     | about 11 months ago

    The law might require buses to have the new style belts, but is there a law that requires the students to actually wear them? 7 other states require the 3 point belts, but none of those states require the students to wear them. Go figure!!

  • See all comments
More Stories
Video

School Bus Songs: ‘Stop When the Arm is Out’

Michigan City (Ind.) Area Schools’ transportation department, also known as the “stop-arm singers,” recreate The Supremes’ famous “Stop in the Name of Love” — urging motorists to think twice before illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Heidi King’s last day as acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be Aug. 31. Photo courtesy NHTSA
News

NHTSA Acting Administrator to Step Down

Heidi King’s last day as acting administrator of the regulatory agency will be Aug. 31. She will be replaced by James Owens, the U.S. DOT’s deputy general counsel.

Video

School Bus Songs: 'Washboard Road'

Jay Heilman, a bus driver with Pasco County (Fla.) Schools, is joined by other members of the district’s transportation staff as he details the trials and triumphs of pupil transportation in his own catchy version of Lil Nas X's “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

File photo courtesy School Bus Safety Co.
Article

Shake-Ups Prompt a Closer Look at Safety

Although we all agree that the motoring public needs to be more cautious, bus drivers can also help mitigate the number of dangerous incidents by following safe and consistent loading and unloading practices.

When unloading, do not step off the bus before sticking out the hand-held stop sign and checking both directions alongside the bus for hazards.
Photo

PHOTOS: California Loading, Unloading Safety

Sabine Konrad, driver instructor for Visalia Unified School District, demonstrates some key steps designed to boost safety when crossing students in the loading and unloading process use by the state.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!