Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) is calling on Senate Democrat leaders to finally address legislation to give children the same lifesaving protections on school buses that are now afforded in family cars via Senate Democrat Jim Beach’s new law.
While Senator Thompson applauds the signing of Beach’s S-2026 — a bipartisan measure that Thompson voted for to modernize child safety belt laws in passenger vehicles — he questions why Democrats have denied a vote on S-632 to similarly implement the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for children riding in school buses.
“In the two years since I introduced S-632 to require all new school buses to include the same three-point lap and shoulder belts we have in our own cars, we have seen a slew of school bus accidents in New Jersey,” said Senator Thompson. “By passing S-2026, this legislature has shown that when it comes to our children’s safety, we are willing to reach across the aisle and work together to make passenger vehicles safe and secure for young children across New Jersey. Why wouldn’t we now work together in the same way to pass legislation to keep children on school buses just as safe from harm?”
The age- and size-appropriate modernization of school bus seat belts called for in S-632 will also reduce dangerous distractions for bus drivers, as children are less likely to act out when wearing a lap and shoulder belt. The current school bus safety belt laws have not been updated since 1992 – nearly 25 years ago.
Senator Thompson said Senator Beach’s exact words on the signage of S-2026 express why the school bus seat belt modernization bill must be passed immediately: “New Jersey’s current seat belt laws regarding young children need to be updated to reflect today’s leading safety standards. This law will apply modern standards endorsed by pediatricians that are proven to be safe and effective to potentially save lives. By keeping up with the revisions already in place, we can ensure that our children get the protection they need.”
“The number of recent school bus accidents in our region has proven that school buses are in no way immune to the dangers of the road faced by all motorists and passengers,” Thompson said. “How many more lives must be put at risk before we take action and work together to make sure our school buses are safe? I urge the Senate Education Committee to end the double standard and post this bill for a hearing as soon as possible.”