MVC Chief Fulton Touts NJ School Bus Laws as “Toughest in the Nation” During August School Bus Inspection Tour
(HIGHTSTOWN) – With classes for the 2019-2020 school year nearly back in session, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chair and Chief Administrator Sue Fulton today reviewed new safety regulations and observed inspections during MVC’s August school bus inspection tour.
Addressing attendees in Hightstown, Chief Fulton called New Jersey’s safety requirements for school buses and drivers “the toughest in the nation” and noted that “over the past two years, Governor Murphy signed eight bills designed to make our school buses and their drivers even safer, including ensuring installation of three-point-belts, performing additional medical exams for older drivers, and conducting more safety education.”
“While this is your opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes, this exercise is not just for show,” Fulton said. “It’s a year ‘round, daily routine that our Inspection Services Unit devotes nearly 100 employees to.”
The specialized unit inspects some 24,000 school buses twice a year for safety features like brakes, steering, lighting, window glazing, emergency exits, seatbelts and more.
“Each of our inspectors undergoes a rigorous month-long training course, both in the classroom and out in the field,” said NJMVC Director of Inspection Services Thomas Bednarz. “This way, we are confident that they’re properly trained and educated with all the knowledge, tools and experience needed to ensure these buses are roadworthy, safe for our children, and ready to serve school systems across the state.”
For each public, parochial and charter school bus in operation, the team has a checklist of 180 safety features to inspect. The Inspection Unit is also charged with reviewing driver records, ensuring that drivers are credentialed with a valid commercial driver license and the appropriate Passenger (P) and School Bus (S) endorsements to transport students, and that their medical certification is up-to-date.
While eight new school bus-safety bills have passed through the State legislature this past year alone, the NJMVC Bus Safety Inspection Unit is charged with monitoring and enforcing new guidelines with each fleet examined.
The additional safety initiatives come in the wake of the fatal May 2018 school bus crash in Mount Olive that claimed the lives of 10-year-old Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson.
Fulton also took the opportunity to remind New Jerseyans that school is back in session.
“Be mindful of school buses stopping in front of you; too many kids have been injured or died because an impatient driver decided to illegally pass a school bus,” she said. “No meeting, no appointment, nothing you need to get to is as important as a kid’s life.”
Fulton is also scheduled to observe inspections in Passaic and Camden counties, making remarks at each stop.