New Jersey Laws and School Bus Safety
Are school buses safer modes of transportation in some states than in others? It is true that certain states have laws that seek to make school bus travel even safer, and according to a recent article in School Transportation News, there are several proposed laws in New Jersey that are intended to increase school bus safety and to prevent bus accidents.
The first major school bus safety law in New Jersey that the article mentions is one that is already in effect. It is a new law that requires school buses in the state to have motion sensors “to protect student pedestrians.” Given that many school bus injuries and fatalities do not happen to students riding the bus at the time of an incident but rather to students who are pedestrians at the time of the crash, the law seeks to prevent such incidents from happening. Ideally, these sensors will prevent a school bus from hitting a child waiting for the bus or crossing the street, even if it is difficult to see the young student.
In addition to this law, however, there are two additional laws that have recently been proposed. This first is NJ S211, which was actually introduced back in January 2016. This bill would permit municipalities and school districts in New Jersey to “contract for video monitoring systems to assist in enforcing [the] law against unlawfully passing a school bus.” While this proposed legislation does not seem to have made much progress since it was introduced, New Jersey legislators recently introduced another school bus safety bill.
According to the article, NJ A3512 might serve some of the same functions as NJ S211. Like the former bill, A3512 would require the installation of video cameras, which “would be adjacent to the crossing control arm.” The crossing control arm is a device that has been installed on around 60% of all currently operating U.S. school buses, and it “forces students to cross farther in front of the bus so the driver can see them.” New Jersey is currently one of 16 states that requires school buses to have a crossing control arm.
School Bus Accident Facts and Figures
As the article underscores, nearly 10 students have died each year over the last decade as a result of injuries sustained in “the school bus loading and unloading zone.” The majority of those deaths involve kids aged seven and younger. In other words, it is more difficult for bus drivers to see young children, putting their risk of injury at three times that of older students. In addition to crossing control arms on buses, what can we do to ensure that our kids are safe on and around school buses?
According to a fact sheet from the National Safety Council, parents should emphasize the following safety tips:
- Always wait away from traffic for the bus, and do not roam into the street;
- Do not attempt to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop;
- Always use the bus’s handrail when getting onboard and when exiting;
- Cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus if you must walk in front of it;
- Ensure that the bus driver can see you at all times if you are not on the bus, and wait for eye contact with the driver before crossing the street; and
- Never cross behind a bus or stand near the rear wheels.
If your child suffered injuries in a school bus accident, an experienced bus accident attorney can discuss your options with you.