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Russell PD Reminds Folks to Buckle Up

Click It or TicketBeginning Monday, May 19 and continuing through Sunday, June 1, drivers can expect increased enforcement for restraint violations as the Russell Police Department joins over 150 other law enforcement agencies in aggressively enforcing Kansas occupant restraint and other traffic laws as part of the 2014 Kansas Click It or Ticket traffic enforcement campaign.

This activity is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

Drivers can expect strict enforcement of both the Safety Belt Use Act and the Child Passenger Safety Act. Briefly, these acts require that all occupants must be appropriately restrained. Law enforcement officers can stop vehicles and issue tickets when they observe front seat occupants, or children under the age of 14, riding without proper restraint. 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. 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 unless taller than four feet nine inches or heavier than 80 pounds. 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 technician, contact the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office at 1-800-416-2522 or ktsro@dccca.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's Traffic Safety section, almost half of those killed in crashes are not belted in. At the same time, fully 98 percent of crash occupants who suffer no injuries of any kind are belted in. In general, unrestrained occupants who are involved in a crash have, at most, only about an eight percent chance of not suffering some degree of injury. And all for simply not taking the brief moments necessary to secure themselves and ensure that their passengers are also secured.

Kansas' adult seat belt compliance rate is 81 percent and ranges, by county, from 57 to 95 percent, with higher rates generally associated with urban counties. Given that unrestrained vehicle occupants are much more likely to die in crashes than are those who buckle in, it is no surprise that the lower restraint usage rate in rural areas is associated with a higher crash fatality rate. In fact, in Kansas, while only about one-third of all crashes occur on rural roadways, those roads see fully two-thirds of all crashes with fatalities. This is frequently due to vehicles in rural areas unintentionally leaving their driving lane and colliding with off-road obstacles, such as culverts, and/or rolling over and ejecting unbelted occupants. One of the grimmest duties a police officer is called upon to perform is to work a crash where an unrestrained occupant is either partially ejected, or completely ejected, and then crushed by the rolling vehicle. Urban motorists are more likely to be belted and less likely to leave the road. While seat belts may not always protect from serious or fatal injury, certainly no other piece of equipment within the vehicle provides more protection.

Kansans like to see their state as one which protects children. However, across the state (with the exception of children ages 0 to 4 who are buckled in at the rate of 97 percent) children and teens are buckled in at rates below the 80 percent rate for adults. As is the case among adults, so it is with child occupants, in that those in rural counties are less likely to be restrained than those in urban counties. Sadly, fully 70 percent of Kansas drivers who choose not to buckle in themselves also do not buckle in their child passengers.

According to Russell Police Chief Dale Weimaster, everyone knows there are seat belt laws and that seatbelts and child safety seats save lives and reduce injury, as well as hold down health care costs for all of us. But too many drivers play the odds and don't buckle up, or require their passengers to buckle up because, in their experience, a crash is unlikely. But when a crash does happen – and it's generally within five miles from home – the four seconds it takes to buckle up looks like a smart investment. Chief Weimaster wants drivers in Russell to remember that it's not only about their driving skills, but it's also about the skills, habits and circumstances of the drivers sharing the road with them.

When drivers don't buckle up, or require their passengers to buckle up, their making the decision for everyone in their vehicle that the drivers they meet are not going to be distracted by sleepiness, cell phone conversations, texting, their coffee, changing radio stations or kids fighting in the back seat. Their assuming that no animal, mechanical or roadway circumstance will cause them to suddenly slow or veer out of their lane.

Weimaster said, "I want people to know that the Russell Police Department is committed to aggressively ticketing violators of seat belt and child safety laws as well as all other traffic infractions that make our streets and highways unsafe."

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