05/18/2016

Sealtbelt Enforcement Campaign Underway - Click It or Ticket

For Immediate Release

 

Click It or Ticket is on its way

Beginning on Monday, May 23, and continuing through Sunday, June 5, motorists can expect to see an increase in law enforcement presence on Cherokee County roadways as the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office joins almost 150 other law enforcement agencies in aggressively enforcing Kansas seatbelt and other traffic laws as part of the 2016 Kansas Click It or Ticket campaign.  This activity is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).  Deputies will be vigilant during all times of the day with special attention given to night time hours, because seatbelt usage at night is much lower than during daytime hours and the percentage of unrestrained crash deaths soars much higher at night.

The Kansas Safety Belt Use Act and the Child Passenger Safety Act requires that all vehicle occupants be appropriately restrained.  Officers in the State of Kansas are authorized to conduct a traffic stop if they observe any front seat occupant, teens in any position, or children under the age of 14, riding without being properly restrained.  Any vehicle occupants over the age of 14 are cited individually with citations for unrestrained occupants under the age of 14 being issued to the driver of the vehicle.  Seatbelt fines are set at $10.00 for adults, $60.00 for an occupant between the ages of 14-17 and fines for the driver in excess of $60.00 plus court costs ($108.00) for occupants under the age of 13.

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, children under the age of four must be correctly secured in an approved child safety seat.  Children, ages four through seven, must be securely belted into an approved booster seat unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches or heavier than 80 pounds, in which case, the booster may be removed and the child belted in without it.  Children, ages eight 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.

The aim of Click It or Ticket is simple:  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, fully 57% of those killed in crashes on Kansas roads are not belted in, while 93% of crash occupants who suffer no injuries of any kind are belted in.  So, in general, unrestrained occupants who are involved in a crash have, at most, only about a 7% chance of not suffering some degree of injury.  And all because drivers neglect to ensure that each occupant in their vehicle is properly restrained – an activity that requires only seconds to complete.  While seat belts may not always protect from serious or fatal injury, certainly no other piece of equipment within the vehicle provides more protection.

Kansas’ overall adult seat belt compliance rate is 82% and ranges, by county, from 59% to 95%, with occupants in rural counties generally less likely to buckle up than those in urban counties.  According to KDOT, this rural-urban difference in seat belt rates is especially problematic because rural roadway conditions are, in general, less forgiving than those in urban areas and the consequences of driver misjudgment – such as unsafe speed and failure to buckle up – are likely to be more severe.  Picture, for example, two lanes, narrow shoulders, ditches on both sides, and random culverts waiting to snag vehicles leaving the roadway.  Or, consider the rollover crash, which is so much more prevalent on rural roadways than city streets.  One of the grimmest duties a police officer is called upon to perform is to work a crash where an unrestrained occupant is partially or completely ejected, and then crushed by the rolling vehicle.  It is easy to see why fully two-thirds of Kansas’ fatality crashes occur on rural roadways even though they see only one-third of all crashes. 

Kansans like to see their state as one which protects children, and it does well with its youngest ones, those aged 0-4, who are buckled in to child safety seats at the rate of 97%.  However, the percentage of properly restrained 5- to 13-year olds is only 82%.  Moreover, eight out of ten times when drivers, themselves, are unbelted, their child passengers are also unsecured.      

According to Sheriff David Groves, “I want people in Cherokee County to be safe while traveling on our roadways.  While they may be safe drivers, there is no guarantee that others they are sharing the road with are equally as safe.  It takes just moments to make sure every occupant is buckled up, but it may make the difference of a lifetime.”

“There should be no surprises with this enforcement campaign.  We will have additional deputies working during this time period, all hours of the day and night, and will be issuing citations for those who chose not to wear their seatbelts,” concluded Sheriff Groves.

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