Click It or Ticket is on its way
Beginning on Monday, May 23, and continuing through Sunday, June 5, drivers can expect increased police presence on city streets and county highways as the Clay Center Police and Clay County Sheriff’s Department join almost 150 other law enforcement agencies in aggressively enforcing Kansas occupant restraint 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). Enforcement will occur around the clock. Officers will be especially vigilant at night because the likelihood of seatbelt use at night is much lower than during the day and the percentage of unrestrained crash deaths soars much higher at night.
Drivers can expect strict enforcement of both the Safety Belt Use Act and the Child Passenger Safety Act. These acts require that all vehicle occupants must be appropriately restrained. Law enforcement officers can stop vehicles and issue tickets when they observe front seat occupants, teens in any position, or children under the age of 14, riding without being properly restrained. Occupants, ages 14 and over, are cited individually. In the event that a passenger under the age of 14 is observed to be unrestrained the driver will be cited. The fine for an adult violation is $10 (plus the time out for the traffic stop, during which the driver’s license number will likely be called in to dispatch). The fine for a youth (14-17) violation is $60 (no court costs), while the driver’s fine for a child (0-13) restraint violation is $60 + court costs.
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. For answers to child safety restraint questions and the location of the nearest safety seat fitting station, or safety seat technician, contact the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office at 1-800-416-2522, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Chief Robinson and Sheriff Dunn, “We want people in Clay County to remember that when they don’t buckle up themselves, or require their passengers to buckle up, they are, in effect, promising themselves and those passengers, along with family and friends not present, that no circumstance will arise that will trigger seat belt activation. That the drivers they will encounter on the road are not going to be critically affected by drug or medical impairment, sleepiness, cell phone conversations, texting, sloshing coffee, the radio dial or kids fighting in the back seat. Nor will there be animals in the road or a mechanical or other circumstance that will cause them to suddenly slow or veer out of their lane.”
“We want people to know that, day or night, the Clay Center Police and Clay County Sheriff’s Department is committed to aggressively ticketing violators of seat belt and child safety laws, as well as other traffic infractions – such as speeding and texting while driving – which make the need for occupant restraint so necessary.”