Bronson particpating in Click It or Ticket campaign

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Now through June 6 look for more traffic stops on city streets as the Bronson Police Department aggressively enforces Kansas occupant restraint and other traffic laws as part of the 2010 Kansas Click It or Ticket traffic enforcement campaign. This activity is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Expect strict enforcement of the Safety Belt Use and Child Passenger Safety Acts. Briefly, these acts require 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 vent that a passenger under the age of 14 is unrestrained the driver will be cited. Where a driver or passenger aged 14 through 17 is seen to be unrestrained, that person will be cited. Children under the age of four must be secured in an approved child safety seat; children, ages four through seven, must be securely belted into an approved booster seat; and 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.

Across Kansas, over 140 law enforcement agencies, including the Kansas Highway Patrol, will be participating in Click It or Ticket. The aim 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, Kansas traffic crashes last year claimed the lives of 386 people. Tragically, of those who died, 69 percent were not belted in. By contrast, 89 percent of those not even injured were belted in.

Across the state, only 77 percent of front seat passengers buckle up, ranking Kansas 40th among the states for seat belt compliance - and well under the national average of 84 percent. Kansas seat belt compliance rates, by county, range from 55 to 86 percent, with higher rates generally associated with urban counties and lower rates associated with rural counties. Given that unrestrained vehicle occupants are more likely to die in crashes than are those who buckle in, it is no surprise that the lower safety restraint usage rate in rural areas is matched with a higher crash fatality rate. In fact, in Kansas, while only 36 percent of all crashes occur on rural roadways, those roads see fully 66 percent of all fatal crashes. This is frequently due to vehicles in rural areas unintentionally leaving their driving lane and colliding with heavy objects or rolling over turning unbelted occupants into torpedoes who are often ejected. Urban motorists are more likely to be belted and less likely to leave the road. Excess speed and alcohol are often contributing factors in both areas.

More disheartening to the law enforcement community than low adult belt rates, however, are low child restraint rates. According to the latest child safety restraint survey by KDOT, on average only about 75 percent of Kansas children, of all ages, are buckled in. Broken down, 96 percent of the youngest ones, ages 0-4, are buckled in; then the rate drops sharply for children, ages 5-9, who are only 73 percent likely to be restrained; to children aged 10-14, who buckle up at 67 percent; to teens, ages 15-17, who, at 61 percent are the least likely to buckle up. 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.

According to Chief Travis Harrison, "Everyone knows there are seat belt laws and that seat belts and child safety seats save lives and reduce injury and hold down health care costs for all of us. But too many drivers play the odds and drive unrestrained, knowing that a crash is unlikely. The fact is, though, when a crash does happen - and it's generally within 5 miles from home - the 2 seconds it took to buckle up looks like a good investment. And remember, 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 dangerously distracted by sleepiness, cell phone, texting, changing radio stations, etc. And you're assuming that no animal, roadway or mechanical problems will cause you to suddenly veer off the road. I want people to know that the Bronson Police Department is committed to aggressively ticketing violators of Kansas passenger restraint laws, and all traffic infractions that make our roadways unsafe."