Tony Mendoza, a senator from California representing the 32nd district, introduced a bill Tuesday that would require the state's school buses to have child reminder alarm systems.
“No parent should fear that their child will not return home safely at the end of the day,” said Mendoza. “My hope is that SB 1072 will prevent future tragedies by requiring every school bus in the state to be equipped with a child-safety alarm system.”
The bill’s goal is to eliminate the number of students being left behind on the school bus at the end of a route. A incident last year in Mendoza’s district resulted in a fatality when a non-verbal student with autism was left behind inside a school bus during a heat wave.
“It is my hope that we can find some meaning in the recent tragic loss of a Whittier student on a school bus, in the form of meaningful change that will safeguard other children. It should not take events like this one to spur us into action on these issues,” he said.
Some states, such as Wisconsin and Arkansas, already require that school buses and child care vehicles over a certain passenger capacity be equipped with these alarm systems.
If passed, the California bill would also require that drivers receive training in child-check safety procedures upon the yearly renewal of their school bus driver safety certificate. It would also impose penalties for bus drivers, school districts or contractors who knowingly transport students in a bus without a child reminder system, or in one where the system is not maintained or out of order
It would also direct the California Highway Patrol to provide rules for implementation, as well as a list of approved alarm systems and technicians qualified to install these, and grant school districts and bus contractors a three-month period to comply after the CHP issues its rules.
“California should join other states that require child safety alarm systems on school buses. It is vital that we do everything we can to protect the many thousands of children transported daily to and from school,” said Mendoza.