Westfield-based IMMI says it is "poised to handle the increased demand" should regulators and school districts decide to mandate seat belts on school buses. The transportation safety and testing company’s declaration comes after National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Mark Rosekind took a stance Sunday no one in his position had taken before. At a national industry conference, Rosekind said the NHTSA’s goal is a three-point seat belt "for every child on every bus." IMMI says it has crash-tested more school buses than any other company in the world.
IMMI Marketing and Communications Director Julie Cooley says nearly two decades ago, IMMI was the first company to engineer seat belts on school buses, so the company is prepared for any potential influx of orders. She adds that government statistics suggest three-point seat belts would reduce injuries and deaths in school bus crashes by 50 percent.
In a statement, IMMI President Tom Anthony said the company is "thrilled" with Rosekind’s announcement. "The NHTSA’s recommendation will pave the way for more students to have the additional protection seat belts on school buses will provide. A lot of districts will also enjoy the added benefit of better behavior and less bullying that we often see with the implementation of seat belts on school buses. Today is a victory for children and for the parents and advocates who’ve fought for so long to make seat belts on school buses a reality."
IMMI says the NHTSA’s new position removes a long-running "excuse" used by school district officials for not installing seat belts in buses.