In 2008, US News and World Report recognized New Jersey’s Drivers as the worst in the country. NJ.com noted that an upsurge in distracted driving accounted for more than 10 million crashes in New Jersey between 2004 and 20013. Today, in 2017, it’s safe to say New Jersey’s drivers are still not regarded as the most law-abiding, a fact arguably underscored by a new state-sponsored bill, of particular relevance to the state’s school-age children, one which also bears testimony to a sobering incident, in the Ocean County district of Lakewood.
A 9 year old boy, dismounted a school bus, only to be struck by a passing motorist, who then went on to drag the child more than 13 yards down the street.
Public outcry, following the event, some spurred by social media posted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office, included complaints from area citizens, some of whom specifically detailed witnessed accounts of drivers illegally passing school buses.
It’s to stop this sort of defiant behavior, that state senator, James Holzapfel has sponsored a bill to create a program, wherein school districts can legally install cameras on their school buses, for the specific purpose of catching such illegal behavior. Holzapfel admits the legal retribution for such acts is often nonexistent, declaring; “We need to show drivers who think they can get away with passing a school bus that they are being watched…Sadly, this might be the only way we get them to stop.”
Tapes acquired by such legally installed equipment would become the property of the local police departments, which would in turn be mandated with issuing violations to any motorist caught on camera, passing a school bus. Fines accrued by those caught on tape would be steep, up to 500 and 5 driver’s points.
The bill, which passed by a wide margin, with bipartisan support, in the state senate, has yet to pass the state assembly. And while many applaud the law’s declared intent, there are naysayers, who suggest a monetary incentive, noting that the suggested equipment can only begin to pay for itself with the institution of fees that could be disproportionate for driver mistakes, which technically violate the law, yet fall significantly short of being hazardous.