A measure to improve the safety of wheelchair-bound students on New Jersey school buses cleared a state Assembly panel.
The measure, if eventually approved by the state Legislature, would require drivers to secure the students with:
- wheelchair restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor;
- a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints;
- floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor.
Under the bill, students using wheelchairs must be secured using the four-point securement system whenever the bus is in operation.
“These students are especially vulnerable,” said Assemblywomen Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic), a co-sponsor of the measure who chairs 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,” she said after the panel forwarded the bill to the full Assembly.
Under A-1257, school buses that provide transportation for students using wheelchairs would have to be equipped with the four-point securement system for each student using a wheelchair on the school bus.
The bill would take effect immediately but remain inoperable until the second Sept. 1 from then.
The chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, in consultation with the state education commissioner, could "take anticipatory acts in advance of the operative date as may be necessary for the timely implementation" of the measure, the lawmakers said.
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