To raise awareness of the importance of driving safely, Great Bend Police Department officers were among more than 350 officers from 92 Kansas law enforcement agencies to participate in the Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE) enforcement campaign near high schools between Feb. 22 and March 5.
According to Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark, GBPD officers were stationed near Great Bend High School for the campaign, which focused primarily on promoting safe driving among teens.
As part of the campaign, officers issued a range of citations for speeding, texting and driving, seat belt violations and other improper restraint violations. Statewide, officers issued 135 teen seat belt citations, 578 adult seat belt citations, and 39 child restraint citations.
While Haulmark did not have precise numbers for citations issued by GBPD officers as part of the campaign, he noted GBPD officers “participated heavily” in the campaign.
Proper use of seat belts and other safety restraints, he noted, is crucial for the safety of drivers and passengers alike.
“Quite simply, seat belts save lives,” Haulmark said. “A properly worn seat belt will prevent you from being propelled forward at the speed you were traveling and will help distribute the force of an impact.”
However, seat belts were not the only significant driver safety issue the campaign addressed. Statewide, officers issued 713 speeding citations during the course of the campaign. While always unsafe, Haulmark said speeding can be particularly hazardous in school zones.
“(Speeding) is a bigger concern (in school zones) because there is more congestion and pedestrian traffic around schools and some of the kids might not be paying attention,” Haulmark said.
With school zones being clearly marked with reduced speed signs and often also with flashing lights, he it is key for everyone’s safety for drivers to slow down in school zones.
Along with speeding and seat belt violations, the campaign also addressed texting and driving, as well as other violations. Officers statewide issued 969 citations for a range of other violations beyond speeding and restraint violations.
“You see it (issues with distracted driving) all the time,” Haulmark said. “People need to put their phone away while they are driving, or use its hands-free features.”
These issues, while important for all drivers, are magnified for younger drivers learning to navigate the roads.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15-18 years old in the United States – ahead of all other types of injury, disease or violence. Through the SAFE enforcement campaign, officers reminded teens that driving is a privilege and encouraged them to consider their own safety and that of others on the road.
“Put down your phone, arrive safely,” Haulmark said. “The weather is nice and people are out more. Be aware of your surroundings.”
All these issues can harm your pocketbook, too. Haulmark said seat belt violations are higher for juveniles and speeding through school zones can result in doubled fines.
SAFE is a teen-run, peer-to-peer program focusing on increasing teen seat belt use through education, positive rewards and enforcement, in order to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities among Kansas teens.
Statewide, officers spent a combined total of 2,569 hours conducting the campaign. Additional law enforcement agencies in Missouri and Oklahoma also participated in the campaign.
For more information about SAFE on, visit Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, ktsro.org/safe.