LODI, NJ (Bergen County) – On Tuesday, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer, State Senator Joe Lagana, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Assemblyman Chris Tully, and Joevanny Vargas, the father of Miranda Vargas, the 10-year-old girl killed in the Paramus bus crash in May on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive Township, outlined the case for federal and state action on school bus safety.
In June, Congressman Gottheimer introduced the bipartisan Miranda Vargas School Bus Driver Red Flag Act – or “Miranda’s Law” – that would require automatic notifications of driver violations to school districts and school bus companies within 24 hours, so they can take immediate action to keep unsafe drivers off the road and away from our children. The state legislators discussed their new legislation for a New Jersey version of Miranda’s Law.
“No parent should be worried about their child’s safety on his or her way to school,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Let’s continue to honor Miranda’s life and recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to make sure our kids, our teachers, and our families are as safe as they can be. We cannot afford to let the safety of our children become a partisan issue. It is a mom and dad issue.”
“We need to prevent people with questionable driving histories from operating our school buses,” said State Senator Joe Lagana, discussing a school bus safety bill currently before the state legislature. “This is just one of a few pieces of legislation we’re working on to keep our children safe. I also want to thank Congressman Gottheimer for taking this fight down to Washington and he really needs all of our support.”
“No family, no parent should ever experience what happened,” said Assemblyman Chris Tully about the Paramus bus accident in May. “I am honored to be working on this legislation with my colleagues to be doing everything that we can to protect our children.”
“The first thing I did this morning when I got in my car was put on my three point seatbelt,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain. “I’m so proud to have sponsored this bill and that we are taking steps to make our children safer when they get on the bus.”
“Miranda’s Law is an important step towards making sure school districts across the country have the information they need on their drivers in real time,” said Joevanny Vargas, father of Miranda Vargas. “We need to make sure we hold schools accountable once they have that information so they don’t let bad drivers behind the wheel and put our children in harm’s way.”
Congressman Gottheimer also introduced the SECURES Act in May; a bipartisan bill co-led by Republican John Faso (NY-19) with Senate companion legislation introduced by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) that would require that all school buses have three-point lap-and-shoulder seat belts and encourage innovative measures to ensure that students are actually wearing their seat belts while on school buses.