Following several accidents involving school buses, a New Jersey Senate Committee has advanced a package of bus safety measure.
Senate Transportation Committee chairman Patrick Diegnan says one measure requires school bus drivers 70 and older to submit proof of physical and mental fitness annually. Those over 75 would have to do so every six months. He initially proposed banning drivers over 75.
“Talking to the operators and being assured by them that some of their most responsible qualified drivers fall into that age group. They’re the ones that care the most. The kids love. There are very careful and cautious. So I rethought what my original position was.”
Other bills call for twice-a-year safety education for drivers and display of a phone number on the vehicles for motorists to report bus driver misconduct.
Senator Joe Lagana expects bus drivers won’t resist the requirements.
“The school bus drivers generally love their job. They love driving the kids around. They love being involved. And I think a lot of them will welcome these new regulations because I think that we’re trying to be responsible as a state and they want to be responsible as drivers and want to be sure that they’re meeting all the guidelines that are set forth”
The legislation also requires the State Education Department to study school district policies on safeguarding school bus passengers.