Southwest Education Support Center

Caruthers, CA

Southwest Education Support Center runs a fleet of 100 buses across 13 school districts, moving 7,000 kids per day and covering 350 square miles in southwestern California. The district has five buses equipped with FlexSeat and ten equipped with two-position SafeGuard seats.
Tony Mendes, Director of Transportation
Director of Transportation Tony Mendes estimates 95 percent of drivers have been enthusiastic about the addition of lap-shoulder belts to the fleet since California began requiring lap-shoulder belts on all new school buses in 2005.

“Drivers like the belts because the kids don’t jump around,” he explained. “Last year there were 40 citations on one route, and so far this year, now that the bus is equipped with belted seats, none have been written. This driver absolutely doesn’t want a route without belts again.”

As he approached his first year with belted seating, one of Mendes’s greatest concerns was service. “I expected we would spend hours and hours servicing seat belts. But the amazing thing is that we’ve not repaired even one seat in two years – there has been no vandalism, and we have not seen service issues.”

The district is also a user of the STAR add-on restraint, with 100 units in service transporting approximately 85 children per day. CEO Kirk Hunter was first introduced to the product by IMMI business development manager Charlie Vits, when Hunter served as state president for CASTO.

“I knew Charlie from seeing him at conferences. When I saw that we needed to purchase add-on restraints, I called him,” he remembered. “We’ve had them now for three years, and STAR works very well for us. We love the portability. It’s small and easy to deal with, and it can be taken on and off and moved to an outside compartment or under a seat when it’s not being used.”

For more information on the SafeGuard FlexSeat, visit


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