NJ Children could soon be Required to use Three-Point Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts on School Buses

school bus lakewoodLegislation sponsored by Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) requiring new school buses to be equipped with three-point lap and should seat belts was approved by the Senate Education Committee.

“This legislation is a common-sense measure to ensure that children have the same protections on school buses that parents provide in their own family cars,” said Thompson. “Kids deserve to be safely secured in age- and size appropriate seats and restraints regardless of whether they are riding in a car or school bus.”

The legislation, S-632, enacts recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics for children riding in school buses, specifically the organization’s suggestion that “every new bus be equipped with lap/shoulder seat belt restraints that also can accommodate car seats, booster seats, and harness systems.”

New Jersey law regarding school bus seat belts was last updated in 1992, nearly 25 years ago. That law requires new school buses to include lap belts, with no requirement that three-point belts be installed.

“We’ve updated safety requirements for child car seats several times in recent years to keep pace with recommendations of medical professionals and increased expectations of safety, but have ignored school buses for nearly 25 years,” said Thompson. “I’m glad that the Legislature is finally acting on this long overdue update to state law.”

Thompson noted that the legislation, modeled on initiatives in Texas and California, would only require three-point seat belts on new school buses manufactured for use in the state after the bill is enacted.

“We’re not talking about retrofitting existing school buses with lap and should seat belts, just requiring their inclusion on new buses,” added Thompson. “As school buses are replaced on a regular cycle spread over many years, and the additional cost of three-point belts is marginal, the additional expense should be negligible.”


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  1. I was at that hearing and it’s going to be a heavy lift. Legislators are very concerned about the added cost and which entity will pay. And there is opposition to the bill from NJ School Boards Association, which argued the extra belts are unnecessary, school buses are already one of the safest forms of transportation, and the requirement is an unfunded mandate. The bill passed out of committee with some Senators saying they were voting yes just to move it to the full Senate, while noting they had reservations. It’s far from a done deal. Your headline is misleading.

  2. another ridiculous idea sponsored by dumb politicians. i have ridden on school buses. 99% of kids don’t wear the seatbelts, so why pay to install them?

  3. How nice it looks on paper that our school buses are now going to be required to have 3 point safety restraints. Presently the law states all buses must have seat belts. Now, do the kids wear them? NO . Why because it is NOT required that the children wear then.
    With the shoulder restraints being required will the kids wear them? NO … SO now what does bus company, bus driver do in this case? It looks good on paper that NJ requires all school buses must have seat/shoulder restraints but nothing says who’s going to enforce it… Any ideas?

  4. Retired school bus driver, you are WRONG. Children ARE required to wear those seat belts:
    From the NJ Permanent Statute Database:
    39:3B-11. Seat belts, child restraint systems, use required, liability
    2. Beginning on September 1 of the second year next following the year of enactment of P.L.1992, c.92 (C.39:3B-10 et seq.), each passenger on a school bus which is equipped with seat belts shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt or other child restraint system that is in conformity with applicable federal standards at all times while the bus is in operation.
    If the law is not enforced, it is the joint fault of: the parents, the driver, the bus company, the Board of Education, but, first and foremost, THE SCHOOL! The school has the legal authority and the ethical mandate to enforce the safe behavior of students on the bus. They have the authority to suspend a student’s busing privileges due to misbehavior, and they need only the will and the guts to threaten and carry through. I guarantee, if a school suspends a few students for not wearing seatbelts, all the students will be waiting by their bus stops each morning mysteriously transformed into model school bus passengers.

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