Legislation Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson and Angela McKnight sponsored to improve the safety of students in wheelchairs who are transported on school buses gained unanimous approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.
The bill (A-1257) would require school bus drivers to secure students who use a wheelchair with a four-point securement system, which shall be made available on all school buses used to transport students who use a wheelchair. 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.
“These students are especially vulnerable,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Assembly Education 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 would help make school buses safer for students who rely on wheelchairs,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Enhancing the safety features on our school buses for students with limited mobility can help 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 (D-Hudson).
“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,” said Holley (D-Union).
“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 (D-Mercer/Middlesex).
“This is a long overdue move toward making sure every student gets to school safety,” said McKnight (D-Hudson).
The measure now awaits further Senate consideration.