Written by Hillsboro Free Press Tuesday, 01 June 2010 19:26
When Gov. Mark Parkinson signed HB 2130 last week, drivers in the state were put on notice that the state is serious about the Kansas Department of Transportation slogan, “Click it or ticket.”
The House bill amended the state’s seat belt law requiring all drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up.
Law enforcement officers in Kansas will now be able to stop and ticket drivers and front-seat passengers who are not wearing safety belts even if the officers do not observe another traffic violation.
Kansas is the 31st state to enact a primary seat-belt law. The law goes into effect June 10. From that day until June 30, law enforcement will be giving warnings; beginning June 30, they will be issuing fines, according to KDOT.
“The passage of the primary seat-belt bill is a great traffic safety improvement that will positively impact Kansas families and travelers,” said Terry Maple, superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
“Law enforcement officers know that many fatalities in the state could have been prevented, had the person simply fastened their safety belt.
“With the passage of a primary seat-belt law, we expect to see voluntary seat-belt usage increase. We appreciate all of the work put in to pass this life-saving legislation.”
The new law makes it a secondary violation for adults in the back seat, which means they would only receive a ticket if the driver was stopped for another violation.
The new law does not affect the existing one for anyone under 18: It is still a primary offense if they are unrestrained anywhere in the vehicle.
“Wearing a safety belt is the simplest thing any of us can do to keep ourselves safe while riding in a car or truck,” said Deb Miller, KDOT secretary.
“If you haven’t been buckling up for yourself, or for those who count on you to return home safely every day, do it now because it’s the law.”
According to KDOT, when worn correctly, safety belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent—and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.
That research becomes significant when coupled with KDOT statistics showing that only 30 percent of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2008 were buckled in at the time of the crash.
Currently, Kansas’ safety-belt use rate is 77 percent, which ranks the state 43rd out of 50 states and well below the national average of 84 percent.