Legislation sponsored by Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) requiring new school buses to be equipped with three-point lap and shoulder seat belts was approved by the Senate Education Committee.
Sen. Sam Thompson’s legislation would require three-point lap and shoulder seat belts on new school buses. (Flickr)
“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.”