Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Marlene Caride (D-Bergen / Passaic), Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen / Hudson), Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), Jamel Holley (D-Union), Daniel R. Benson (D-Mercer / Middlesex) and Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) to improve the safety of wheelchair-bound students who are transported on school buses was released Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“These students are especially vulnerable,” said Caride, who chairs the committee. “Equipping our school buses with this four-point securement system and requiring bus drivers to ensure that students in wheelchairs are properly secured in the system will make for a safer ride to school.”
“The road can be unpredictable. This helps make school buses safer for students who rely on wheelchairs,” said Jimenez. “Enhancing the safety features on our school buses for students with limited mobility helps ensure that these students get to and from school safely and securely.”
“This bill is quite simply the right thing to do to ensure the safety of all students,” said Mukherji.
“It’s amazing and concerning that we haven’t done this already, but with this bill we’ll be taking a step toward safety for every student,” Holley said.
“This is basic common sense – every student should get a safe ride to school, and we should do everything we can to ensure that happens,” said Benson.
“This is a long overdue move toward making sure every student gets to school safety,” McKnight said.
The bill (A1257) requires school buses that provide transportation for students using wheelchairs to have an aide to assist the students and be equipped with a four-point securement system for each student using a wheelchair on the school bus, beginning on Sept. 1 of the second year next following the year of enactment of the bill. A four-point securement system is defined by the bill as a complete four-point system that includes four wheelchair restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor; a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints; and floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor.
The bill requires that students using wheelchairs be secured using the four-point securement system at all times while the bus is in operation, and that the school bus operator or aide secure or cause to be secured a passenger using a wheelchair using the properly adjusted and fastened four-point securement system.