TOPEKA, Kan. - The Topeka Police Department will be aggressively enforcing Kansas occupant restraint and other traffic laws as the department participates in the 2009 Kansas Click It or Ticket traffic enforcement campaign May 18th through May 31st. This activity is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).
The law requires that all persons in the front seat must be buckled in and that all persons under the age of 18 must be buckled in regardless of their position in the vehicle. In the event that a passenger under the age of 14 is unrestrained the driver will be cited. Where a driver or passenger, age 14 through 17, is unrestrained, that person will be cited.
Children under the age of four must be secured in an approved child safety seat; children ages 4 through 7, must be securely belted into an approved booster seat; and children, ages 8 through 13, must be safety-belted. In addition, the act prohibits persons under the age of 14 from riding in any part of a vehicle not intended for carrying passengers, such as a pickup bed.
Across Kansas, about 135 law enforcement agencies will be participating in Click It or Ticket. The goal is to drastically reduce the number of preventable deaths and injuries that occur when unbelted drivers and passengers are involved in traffic crashes. According to KDOT’s Traffic Safety section, traffic crashes last year claimed the lives of 384 people. Tragically, about 61 percent were not belted in. By contrast, almost 90 percent of those not injured were belted in.
Statewide, only 77% of front seat passengers buckle up, ranking Kansas 39th in the nation for seat belt compliance, well under the national average of 83 percent. The Seat belt compliance rate, for Shawnee County is 70%. In Kansas, more than three times the number of crashes occur on city streets as on county roads. Excess speed and alcohol are often contributing factors in injury and fatality crashes.
More disheartening to law enforcement, is the low compliance rate for child restraint. According to the latest child safety restraint survey by KDOT, on average only about 75% of Kansas children, of all ages, are buckled in. Only 66 percent of children, aged 5-13, are buckled in. This stands in stark contrast to the average adult rate of 77 percent which suggests that some parents are buckling themselves in while leaving their children unrestrained.
“Everyone knows there is a seat belt law and a law directing that children will be properly restrained, and I have to believe that everyone knows it is a smart thing to do. But too many drivers play the odds, knowing that a crash is unlikely. The fact is, crashes do happen – too often – and that 2 seconds to buckle up is a good investment when they do. You may be a good driver, but not everyone you share the road with will be. When you don’t buckle up or require that your passengers buckle up, you’re making the decision for everyone in your vehicle that none of the drivers you meet are going to be distracted by sleepiness, cell phone, texting, changing radio stations, etc. And you’re assuming that no roadway or mechanical problems will cause you to suddenly veer off the road. The Topeka Police Department is committed to aggressively ticketing violators of Kansas passenger restraint laws, and all traffic infractions that make our roadways unsafe.”