When parents have to decide how they want their children to go to school, buses are one of the most popular options. They don’t have to worry about taking time out of their days to take the kids themselves and they trust the school to hire the right people to ensure the safety of all of the kids they are transporting.
However, many parents lately have been questioning if it truly is the safest option. Unqualified drivers that the school chose to hire have caused several bus crashes and fatalities in recent years. While there are efforts to inspect every driver and vehicle before they are sent out on the road, a recent report from NJ.com shows just how much a bus company can get away with reckless endangerment and still continue to provide services.
Alarming numbers of accidents and tickets
This article about bus safety records highlighted one particular Lakewood bus company that operates in two counties. They found that the company has been in 78 accidents since November 2015 that have injured 33 people. The company’s drivers have been cited for hundreds of traffic tickets, 89 percent of their buses failed inspections in 2019 and the company faces constant scrutiny from parents on social media concerning the safety of their children. Despite all of this, the school boards in the counties that the company operates in expanded their contract with them.
The report cited budget problems and a shortage of bus drivers as some of the prime factors of why the schools associated with the company continue to have these problems. The company lacked time and money to perform proper inspections and find drivers who have not had suspended licenses.
Will it change soon?
Last year, Governor Phil Murphy signed several new bus safety laws for New Jersey into effect. These new laws include:
- Requiring bus drivers to take safety classes twice a year
- Requiring state operations to comply with federal regulations
- Requiring drivers over 70 years old to submit medical reports every year
- Requiring the school board to notify the Department of Education when a bus driver had their license suspended or revoked.
However, lawmakers still believe there is more to do to make these trips to school safer. In the meantime, parents should try to look up the bus company at their child’s school or discuss with other parents before deciding to sign them up for daily trips.
While it’s unknown how much these new regulations will impact local schools right away, school districts should consider a bus company’s safety records before deciding to trust them with transporting hundreds of children every day. If your child suffers as a result of a reckless bus driver, know what legal options are at your disposal that can help you financially recover.