After Child’s Death, NJ Senator Acts to Improve School Bus Safety Statewide

IMG_1693Senator Dawn Addiego’s bill to establish the “Task Force on Safety in School Transportation” has cleared the Senate Education Committee. Addiego first introduced the bill after a 6-year-old child from her district, Edmond Bock, was struck and killed by a school bus in Waterford.

“More than 23 million children ride a school bus year-round every year,” Senator Addiego (R-Burlington, Camden, Atlantic) said. “Each and every one of these kids has a right to be transported to school safely, and their parents should expect no less than the highest level of protection from those who are charged with this responsibility.”

“I cannot imagine the frustration and heartbreak the Bocks must feel as they continue to search for answers in the wake of Edmond’s death,” Senator Addiego added. “We cannot erase their pain, but we can enact preventative safety measures, so that no other child suffers the same fate.”

The bill advanced by the committee today, S-1910, is part of a two-bill package to address issues associated with school transportation safety in the wake of Edmond Bock’s tragic passing. The second bill, S-1911, is currently awaiting action in the legislature.

The 17-member task force established under S-1910 would be charged with studying and improving State laws, regulations and programs that address student safety in school transportation. Other responsibilities include:

Identify safety protocols that all school bus drivers and bus aids must follow, including safeguards for when there is a substitute, such as the driver who was operating the bus that struck and killed Edmund Bock.

Identify best practices for school bus stops
Identify how to implement vehicle sensor technology and curb illegal passing of a school bus

Develop a plan to phase in any safety measures recommended by the task force, such as retrofitting or purchasing new vehicles
The task force established under S-1910 would include the Commissioners of Education and Transportation, the Chief Administrator of the NJMVC, the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, and 13 members to be appointed by the Governor. The task force must present a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature no later than 12 months after its organization and will cease to exist upon submitting its report.

If signed into law, the legislation would take effect immediately.

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