Seven months after a school bus crash left a New Jersey fifth-grade student and middle-school teacher dead, Gov. Phil Murphy has signed four more safety laws that aim to prevent more bus accidents.
NJ.com reports that the new laws:
•Require permanent and substitute school bus drivers and aides in the state to take safety classes twice a year.
•Require school bus operations in the state to comply with federal regulations.
•Require those who hold a bus drivers license in the state to submit a medical report, those older than 70 to submit proof of physical fitness every year, and those older than 75 to submit proof every six months.
•Require that when when a school bus driver in the state has had his or her license suspended or revoked, the local school board or bus driver must verify to the state Department of Education that the driver no longer operates a bus for them.
The legislation is in part a response to a fatal accident in May. A student, Miranda Faith Vargas, 10, and a teacher, Jennifer Williamson, 51 — both from East Brook Middle School in Paramus — were killed when their bus collided with a dump truck while headed to a class trip.
The driver of the bus, Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, of Jersey City, was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide.
“After the tragic school bus accident in Paramus earlier this year, it became clearer than ever that we must act to protect our children and educators through common sense school bus safety reforms," Murphy said. “Thanks to our actions in partnership with the Legislature, parents will be able to send their children to school knowing that school buses and school bus drivers are being held to extremely high standards designed to ensure the safety of students,” the governor added.
In August, Murphy signed a law inspired by the crash that mandates lap and shoulder seat belts on all New Jersey school buses.