Rep. Josh Gottheimer

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

Congressman Calls For Stronger School Bus Seat Belt Requirements In Wake Of Mt. Olive Crash

May 29, 2018 - 1:18 pm

FAIR LAWN, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- Not even two weeks after a teacher and a student from Paramus, New Jersey were killed in a school bus crash, there is a call for the federal government to make the buses safer.

“I couldn’t believe that only eight states – only eight – require any type of seat belts,” said U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey).

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported Tuesday, Gottheimer is proposing a law requiring seat belts on every school bus in the country. New Jersey is one of the eight states that does require seat belts on school buses, but the Paramus bus had just lap belts.

Gottheimer said his legislation would make “three-point lap belts – lap and shoulder seat belts – the national standard.”

The school bus was one of three headed out for a field trip to Waterloo Village for students from East Brook Middle School in Paramus a week ago last Thursday. The bus crashed into a dump truck on Route 80 in Mount Olive, killing student Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson, 51, and injuring 43 others.

Video of the crash apparently shows the bus driver attempted a U-turn by turning from an access road across the interstate when it was hit by a dump truck. 

The Paramus bus driver had multiple license suspensions – many for administrative reasons.

Supt. Michele Robinson said there was a background check.

“With all school bus drivers, we get a full report from the state, and the information that we received from the state, did not show moving violations,” Robinson said.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, is charged with two counts of death by auto.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also now suggesting to New Jersey and many states that only require lap belts also to require shoulder belts.