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Indiana lawmaker, company encouraged by new school bus safety recommendation

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INDIANAPOLIS (November 10, 2015) - After some new comments from a key federal official, there's a new debate emerging about seat belts on school buses. And now one state lawmaker and officials at an Indiana company are saying it's about time.

This week a federal official with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Adminstration said he’s recommending all buses be equipped with safety belts.

“School buses should have seat belts. Period,” said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. "Every child on a school bus without a seat belt means more risk of serious injury.”

Westfield-based IMMI makes seat belts for school buses. They put out a statement today saying they agree with the new recommendation

“We’re thrilled by today’s announcement,” said Tom Anthony, president of IMMI. “The NHTSA’s recommendation will pave the way for more students to have the additional protection seat belts on school buses will provide.”

One state lawmaker says he also appreciates the new recommendations. State Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis, has been trying to pass legislation requiring school bus seat belts here in Indiana since taking office in 2008.

“They’re saying now the same thing that I’ve been saying,” said Bartlett. “We put our kids on the school bus in the mornings and they don’t have an option to fasten their seat belts.”

Bartlett says he's hoping to get a Republican to co-sponsor his legislation next year. And he says-  requiring the seat belts on new school buses only would also help cut the cost.

“We owe it to our children to put seat belts on school buses, it’s just too dangerous,” said Bartlett. “Hopefully this will bring it to the forefront… let’s hope that our legislators are listening to the feds and say it’s time that we do this.”

Only six states require seat belts on school buses. Critics say the cost would make such a move impossible, with estimates showing it would cost thousands of dollars per bus to add seat belts on our school buses.