Gloucestercitynews.net--(West Berlin) – With classes for the 2019-20 school year back in session, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s Administration utilized its annual school bus inspection tour to highlight for the public new safety regulations now incorporated into routine inspections.
MVC Chair and Chief Administrator Sue Fulton has touted New Jersey’s school bus safety requirements as “the toughest in the nation,” pointing to Governor Murphy’s support of eight bills that over the past two years have made the state’s “school buses and their drivers even safer, including ensuring installation of three-point seat belts, performing additional medical exams for older drivers, and conducting more safety education.
“While the NJMVC school bus inspection tour is an 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,” MVC Director of Inspection Services Thomas Bednarz said during the West Berlin stop. “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-plus safety features to inspect. The Inspection Unit is also charged with reviewing driver records, ensuring that drivers’ medical certifications are up-to-date, and confirming that each is credentialed with a valid commercial driver license and the appropriate passenger and school bus endorsements to transport students.
While eight new school bus-safety bills have passed 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.
With the inspection tour in full swing, Chief Fulton is appealing to the driving public to be on high alert now that classes are 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.”