Make your home page

Westfield-Washington school buses to install seat belts

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – Westfield Mayor Andy Cook plans to announce a new safety measure being installed on Westfield-Washington school district’s school buses – seat belts.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Cook will hold a press conference at the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE), on IMMI’s campus, during which the mayor and school officials will unveil a program to provide seat belts to Westfield school buses.

24-Hour News 8 spoke with Cook about the program ahead of the announcement. Cook cited statistics that show more than 600 buses have been involved in rollover crashes over the past five years, as a reason for getting the seatbelts.

“I think it’s one of these things that we’re going to look back on in 10 years and say, ‘You mean we didn’t have seat belts on buses 10 years ago?’ It’s going to be something that I think we need to take a proactive stand on,” said Cook.

IMMI, the company teaming up with the Westfield-Washington school district, is the leading provider of seat belts to school buses. IMMI is Westfield’s largest manufactuer and employer. An IMMI spokesperson told 24-Hour News 8 the company would cover the labor costs of retrofitting the buses, while the schools would pay for the actual parts.

Westfield-Washington Schools said the pilot program will first equip six travel buses with seatbelts. Crews plan to start retrofitting the buses this summer.

“School buses are the only vehicles traveling down our highways at 65 mph that don’t offer the protection of seat belts for our kids. We can do better, and in Westfield, we will,” said Tom Anthony, president and owner of Westfield-based IMMI.

There is currently a bill going through the Indiana Legislature that would mandate seat belts on all new school buses.