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Westfield parents weigh in on school bus seat belts

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – The Westfield-Washington School District is adding seat belts to six of its school buses for the start of a pilot program. Some Westfield parents contend that every school bus should have seat belts.

The seat belts will be installed this summer, after kids are out of school. Officials say if the pilot goes well, Westfield schools will add more seat belts.

“I think they should have done that a long time ago,” Westfield Intermediate School mother Tracey Sweet said.

Sweet says she wants every school bus in the state to have seat belts.

“We waste money on other things, so why not seat belts? Our kids are our future. We might as well keep them safe,” Sweet said.

School administrators say the project will cost the district $25,000 and stretch over to three years.

Westfield-Washington Director of Operations Nick Verhoff says the Westfield-based company, IMMA, is footing the $50,000 labor bill. They will manufacture the seat belts.

Dawn Easterbrook is another Westfield mother who says she’d have peace of mind if her child wore a seat belt to school.

“Just the safety concern, and knowing that if, God forbid, there is an accident, there not going to get necessarily tossed around the bus,” Easterbook said.

Easterbrook also said she wants seat belts on every school bus. Verhoff says it’s unlikely that the school district will install seat belts on every bus.

“Our buses are inherently safe,” Verhoff said. “The idea of putting them on every route wouldn’t be financially practical or maybe even needed.”

A city spokesperson says Westfield will be the first district in Hamilton County to use the seat belts on standard school buses.

Verhoff says the six buses with seat belts will be the first buses to go out on field trips and athletic events. He says a top concern is safety on long distance trips, when buses travel at faster speeds.