The Kansas Highway Patrol will be watching area high schools this month, making an extra effort to enforce seat belt laws.
Lt. Steve Billinger said troopers will patrol the schools for about 30 minutes before and after school, making visits to Great Bend, Hoisington, Ellinwood and Central Plains High School in Claflin, as well at to Chase High School, beginning Monday. The coordinated effort will continue through March 19.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is joining other Kansas law enforcement agencies to stop what has been an epidemic for the past several years, he said. "We’ve done education that’s been somewhat successful, but we find that enforcement has a greater impact on the compliance rate than anything else that we did. In 2010, 51 teens lost their lives due to car crashes in Kansas; 75 percent of those killed were not restrained."
KHP officials emphasize that the extra vigilance is an attempt to change the trend and reduce the number of teen fatalities. "For more than twenty years, officers have educated and warned passengers and drivers regarding the importance of using restraints while in their vehicle," a KHP news release stated. "There should be no surprises when it comes to this enforcement effort. Officers will issue citations to any individual who refuses to obey the traffic laws, whether it is for speeding, texting, or failing to buckle up."
"These young people are our future, and we don’t want to lose any one of them in a traffic crash," Colonel Ernest E. Garcia, superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, said. "We will actively enforce the traffic laws in, and around, schools in an effort to help everyone travel to and from safely. We care about these young people, and want them to be protected, should they be involved in crash."
Billinger said this effort is also supported by the Kansas Department of Transportation.