Should new school buses have seat belts installed before they are used to transport Indiana’s children to and from school? Democratic state Senate hopeful Terry White seems to think so, according to a proposal he made earlier last week.

White, who is the Warrick County Democratic chairman currently challenging state Senator Veneta Becker for the District 50 seat, says that according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, each day there are an average of 144 school bus-related traffic accidents, with an average of 21 school-age children dying in crashes related to school transportation every year.

According to Whites proposal, installing seat belts on all school buses would set the state back about $6.4 million per year, over the span of the next 15 years or however long it takes to install seat belts in all of Indiana’s 16,353 school buses – most of which do not currently have safety belts.

“When our children get on the bus and don’t buckle up, the habit of seat belt use is not reinforced and we miss a prime training opportunity. School buses can be important extensions of the classroom for training children to build this critical lifelong habit,” said White.

At least six states currently require large school buses to come equipped with safety belts including California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, as well as a number of other states trying to implement the use of seat belts in their school districts.