Jul 05, 2023

Lakewood NJ bus drivers warned to follow rules or face fines

LAKEWOOD — Transportation vendors have been reminded about the infractions they can be fined up to $500 during the upcoming school year.

The letter signed by Lakewood school superintendent Laura Winters and obtained by New Jersey 101.5 told bus companies that infractions like drivers wearing earbuds while behind the wheel, operating a bus while students are still standing or hanging out windows and sitting on the floor or standing while the bus is moving are no-no's subject to a $500 fine.

Drivers who change routes or make unauthorized stops face a possible $300 fine.

"Your work is meaningful and important, thank you for all that you do to keep ALL thechildren in Lakewood safe," read the letter from Winters.

Bus companies must also have staff manning their phones between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. or until all the buses return for the day. Buses must also be equipped with working two-way radios, GPS and working recording or audio devices.

Winters did not disclose a reason for sending the letter but could be thinking of the 6-year-old girl who choked to death onboard a school bus while the monitor wore earbuds in Franklin Township on July 17.

Lakewood public school buses were involved in at least five serious crashes in October 2021 although drivers were not at fault in all of them. In one a driver suffered a medical episode. Another was the result of a car hitting a bus after allegedly ignoring a stop sign.

The Lakewood Scoop was first to report on the letter.

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