Assembly Committee Moves to Enhance Safety for People with Disabilities

Written by Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, Ed.D

Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, Ed.D

Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro a is a learning, transition and disability policy specialist, who represents people with disabilities at New Jersey’s Office of Administrative Law.  He holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.  He has consulted the US Congress on each reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act since it's inception, and has authored numerous books, professional journal articles and research studies in the areas of disability policy, education, rehabilitation, and community acquiescence. 

Friday, 16 March 2012 00:00

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Within days of the opening of the 216th State Legislature in January, the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee moved to make transportation for people with disabilities safer. Assembly bill 2036 is designed to “require a private entity which is primarily engaged in the business of providing transportation for passengers in wheelchairs to secure, or cause to be secured, any passenger in a wheelchair using a properly adjusted and fastened four-point securement system.” The primary sponsors of the bill are Assemblyman  David C. Russo, District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic), Assemblyman  Upendra J. Chivukula, District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset),Assemblywoman  Marlene Caride, District 36 (Bergen and Passaic), and Assemblyman  John S. Wisniewski, District 19 (Middlesex).

According to the publicity for the bill, “A four-point securement system is defined as a complete four-point system that includes: (1) four wheelchair restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor; (2) occupant securements; (3) a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints; and (4) floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor.  The private entity is also required to secure unoccupied wheelchairs”. For years, studies have indicated that people with disabilities are more likely to incur serious injuries than the non-disabled population when riding in automobiles and traveling as pedestrians. The bill itself states that, “For the purposes of this act, the term "passenger automobile" shall include vans, pick-up trucks, and utility vehicles”.

Transportation safety for people with disabilities has always been a major issue, with concern becoming more acute at the beginning of this decade. Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law that requires automobiles to come to a complete stop at crosswalks. The measure became Law when statistics revealed the high number of pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey. Unfortunately, many complaints from pedestrians indicate that the crosswalk law may be the most ignored legal measure in New Jersey. Obviously, the layoffs of countless police officers make enforcement more difficult.

A2036 will not solve all transportation safety issues for New Jerseyans with disabilities. However, it is a step in the right direction.

# # #

Assembly Committee Moves to Enhance Safety for  People with Disabilities