Beginning Feb. 23 and running through March 6, the Great Bend Police Department will join other Kansas Law Enforcement agencies to stop what has been an epidemic for the past several years – teens not using seatbelts.
In 2014, 34 teens lost their lives in car accidents in Kansas, 63 percent of those teens were not seatbelt restrained, said GBPD school liaison officer Jefferson Davis. In an effort to change this trend, law enforcement across Kansas will be extra vigilant when patrolling around schools.
“For more than 30 years, officers have educated and warned passengers and drivers regarding the importance of using restraints while in the vehicle,” Davis said. “There should be no surprise when in comes to this enforcement effort.”
For the two-week enforcement period, officers will issue citations to any individual who refuses to obey the law, whether it is for speeding, texting, or failing to buckle up.
The SAFE ( Seatbelts Are For Everyone) program began in Crawford County Kansas in 2008. Since that time over 35 Counties in Kansas have participated in this enforcement effort. That accounts for 87 schools across the state that have benefited from this effort.
The hope of the enforcement is to work to increase education and enforcement on seatbelt laws, said Colonel Mark Bruce, Kansas Highway Patrol superintendent. The Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office and law enforcement partners across the state have spent more than 20 years educating Kansas teens on the dangers of driving unrestrained.
It is a teen run, peer-to-peer program, focused on increasing teen restraint compliance through education, positive rewards, and enforcement, Bruce said. It is designed to bring awareness to the importance of wearing a seatbelt, reducing the number of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities among Kansas teens.
“The goal of SAFE is to increase seatbelt use among students while providing strong traffic safety messages throughout the school year,” Bruce said.
“Our priority is to keep motorists of all ages safe as they travel to and from their destinations. It is our hope that by encouraging students to wear their seatbelts, this will begin a lifelong practice, which will help keep them safe in the years to come,” Bruce, said. “The SAFE program has already seen life-saving results over the past few years, and we hope these good results will keep building.”
For more information on the SAFE Program, go to http://www.ktsro.org/safe.