This month thousands of law enforcement agencies across the nation, including the Kansas Highway Patrol, will participate in safety campaigns to encourage drivers and passengers to buckle their seat belts and properly secure their children. National "Buckle Up America!" Week is May 19 through May 26, and the Operation ABC "America Buckles Up Children" Mobilization and Kansas Clicks is May 19 through June 1.
Traditionally a heavy travel period, the Memorial Day weekend falls in the midst of these programs. Thanks to overtime funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation's Special Traffic Enforcement Program, the Patrol will place additional troopers on our highways to focus on enforcing safety belt and child passenger laws and to protect Memorial Day travelers.
In Kansas, law enforcement officers may stop and cite drivers whenever they see unrestrained children in a vehicle. All children under the age of four must be secured in approved child safety seats, and all children age four to 14 must wear safety belts at all times. The Patrol encourages parents and caregivers to use booster seats for children too big for safety seats but too small for regular seat belts, i.e. 40-80 pounds and 35 inches to 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Children are safest when they are secured in the back seat.
In addition, state law requires all passengers, regardless of age, seated in the front seat of a vehicle to wear safety belts. Unbuckled adults may be cited and fined when they are stopped and cited for other traffic violations. Lap belts should sit low across the hips without riding up onto the stomach, and the shoulder belt should run across the collarbone and chest, not against the neck or face. Remember, air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not to replace them.
Of course no one likes being pulled over or being ticketed.But if you are cited for a safety belt or child restraint violation, please remember that officers have your safety and the safety of your children at heart. The Kansas Highway Patrol strictly enforces occupant protection laws because we want to prevent injuries and fatalities on the road and ultimately we care about the citizens we serve.
Col. Don Brownlee,
Kansas Highway Patrol