May 16, 2011



Click It or Ticket is just ahead

By Don Stubbings

Beginning Monday, May 23, and running through Sunday, June 5, look for increased police presence at K-State as campus police aggressively enforce the state's occupant restraint and other traffic laws as part of the 2011 Kansas Click It or Ticket traffic enforcement campaign. This activity is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation or KDOT.

Expect strict enforcement of the safety belt use and child passenger safety acts. Briefly, these acts require that all occupants must be appropriately restrained. Occupants age 14 and older are cited individually. In the event that a passenger under the age of 14 is unrestrained, the driver will be cited. Children under the age of 4 must be secured in an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 7 must be securely belted in an approved booster seat unless taller than 4 feet, 9 inches or heavier than 80 pounds. All other children must wear safety belts.

Across Kansas nearly 150 law enforcement agencies, including the K-State police department, 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 in 2009 claimed 388 lives. Tragically, more than two-thirds of those who died were not wearing seat belts. By contrast, 89 percent of those not even injured were belted in.

Across the state, 82 percent of front-seat passengers buckle up, ranking Kansas 35th among the states for seat belt compliance -- and under the national average of 85 percent. However, the state's seat belt compliance rates by county range from 63 to 89 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 up, it's 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, which turns unbelted occupants into torpedoes who are often ejected or partially 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 environments.

More disheartening to the law enforcement community are low child restraint rates. According to the latest survey by KDOT, on average only about 77 percent of Kansas children of all ages are restrained. Broken down, 97 percent of the youngest ones, ages up to 4 years old, are buckled in; then the rate drops sharply for children, ages 5 to 9, who are only 76 percent likely to be restrained; to children ages 10 to 13, who are only likely to be restrained 68 percent of the time.

"Everyone knows there are seat belt laws and that seat belts and child safety seats save lives and reduce injury," said Capt. Don Stubbings of the K-State police department. "Kansas State University police will have zero tolerance of unrestrained drivers."