PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New school buses in New Jersey will now be required to have three-point seat belts for all students.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the measure Saturday in Paramus. At his side was an 11-year-old whose testimony in Trenton helped bring the new law into effect.
“I asked, ‘what happened to my friends?’” Peter Caminiti said as he addressed lawmakers on June 18.
A month prior, he suffered a concussion and other injuries along with his classmates on a bus that overturned on Route 80 in Mount Olive, killing fellow student Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy.
The 77-year-old bus driver was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide.
Caminiti was buckled in, but only by a lap belt.
“I woke up hanging from my seat belt with a bloody nose,” he said.
On Saturday, he boarded a school bus for the first time since the crash, touring the newest bus in the Paramus School District’s fleet.
“The seat belts, love them,” he said.
The newly required belts don’t just go across students’ laps, but also over their shoulders. Many districts have already retrofitted the older buses with them.
“It is safer, yeah,” said Caminiti.
The governor said the bus and the way it’s outfitted must become the model for thousands more in New Jersey.
“All school buses manufactured starting 180 days from now must be equipped with three-point safety belts for all occupants,” he said.
“I was praying that everybody would listen to me, and today it’s shown me that everybody did,” said Caminiti.
The boy’s leaving a traumatizing fifth grade year behind, and says he’s entering sixth grade feeling safer and feeling proud.