Continuing to strengthen protections for New Jersey student bus riders, an Assembly panel approved Monday a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey mandating suspension of school bus drivers who receive multiple motor vehicle moving violations in a three-year period.
The legislation was prompted by concerns raised during the investigation of the bus accident occurring on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive last May. The bus carried students and teachers from Paramus. A student and a teacher were killed in the crash and more than 40 other bus passengers were injured.
It was discovered that the bus driver’s license was suspended 14 times over 42 years. Six of those were for parking violations; seven were for administrative or paperwork reasons. One of the violations was given for driving while his license was suspended. He also had eight speeding tickets, was cited for an improper lane change in 2010 and was involved in five previous crashes.
“Any motor vehicle violation against a school bus driver should raise red flags within the MVC,” said Downey. “When parents allow their children to ride the bus, they trust that every precaution has been taken to guarantee their student’s safety. This legislation will make sure a school bus driver’s motor vehicle violations do not go overlooked again.”
The bill (A-4447) requires the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission to suspend the school bus endorsement on a person’s driver’s license for 90 days if the person is convicted of three or more motor vehicle moving violations in a three-year period or accumulates six or more motor vehicle penalty points. The bill establishes notification requirement for the Chief Administrator and Commissioner of Education. The bus driver would be required to complete a defensive driving course before the endorsement is reinstated.
The bill was released by the Assembly Transportation Committee on October 18 and more recently by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday. It will now be considered by the Assembly Speaker for a floor vote.