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N.J. MANDATES SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

Gov. Jim Florio has signed legislation making New Jersey the first state to require seat belt use in school buses.

The bill signed Tuesday applies to new buses purchased by school districts from now on, not to those already on the road.New school buses also will be required to have 28-inch seat backs to prevent whiplash and roof hatches to allow easier escape in an accident.

"New Jersey is now the first state in the nation to write the ABCs of school bus safety into law," Florio said.

Opponents have said the precautions were too expensive for cash-strapped school districts.