What’s the hold up? Delay on getting safety sensors on NJ school buses
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TRENTON — It’s been a year and two months since Gov. Chris Christie signed a measure requiring all new school buses in New Jersey to be equipped with sensors that activate an alarm if a child moves in front or behind the bus.
The measure, known as Abigail’s Law, is named after 2-year-old Abigail Kuberiet, a youngster who was killed when she ran in front of a bus back in 2003.
Most new buses still don’t have the sensors installed because the state Department of Education hasn’t adopted final regulations on what type of sensors should be used.
And it’s not clear when they will.
Ten months ago, the department told school administrators they were working on the regulations but they weren’t completed yet, and schools should comply with the new law “as they see fit.”
According to David Saenz, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, the administration is reviewing public comments and expects the “regulations to go back to the state Board of Education at a future meeting.”
He noted the regulations for the bus sensors “would really include most schools across the state, schools that have different busing situations.
“Some districts have their own buses; other districts contract out their busing to companies. So through this process we just want to make sure we take into account all the different aspects so we get it right when the regulations are proposed to the state board.”
When pressed on the issue of why the regulations have taken so long to work out, Saenz said there are a lot of things to consider.
“You’re talking from Cape May to Sussex County, looking at all the different aspects of different districts, how they use those buses either through their own district buses or through the companies.”
He added the DOE wants to make sure the regulations are crafted properly.
“We want to take into account the feedback and input from all those different voices on this and that’s really why the process is just trying to be deliberative,” he said.
State Sen. Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, one of the original sponsors of the legislation, said this entire process has been dragged out way too long.
“It’s inexcusable, frustrating — I can’t come up with the proper term. I mean, this should be in process, it should be in place,” he said.
When asked if there was any way to speed up the regulation process, Diegnan said he intended to check with the Office of Legislative Services.
“This is not space-age technology. This is not something that’s pie in the sky. It’s available. It’s on most of our cars. Let’s do it already,” he said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.