COLUMBUS - Motorists will notice an increase in law enforcement presence across Cherokee County beginning Monday, May 21, and continuing through Sunday, June 3, as the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office joins 160 other law enforcement agencies in aggressively enforcing Kansas traffic laws, with an increased focus on seatbelts. The 2018 Kansas Click It or Ticket campaign is supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). Although enforcement will occur around the clock, deputies will be especially vigilant at night because seatbelt use diminishes after nightfall, meaning the likelihood of unrestrained crash injuries and deaths soar during those hours.
The enforcement campaign will include both adult safety belt use and compliance with the Kansas Child Passenger Safety Act. These statutes require all vehicle occupants be appropriately restrained. Law enforcement officers can stop vehicles and issue tickets when they observe front seat occupants, teens in any seat position, or children under the age of 14, riding without being properly restrained. Occupants, ages 14 and over, are cited individually. In the event that a passenger under the age of 14 is observed to be unrestrained the driver will be cited. The fine for an adult seat belt violation is $30 – a $20 increase passed overwhelmingly by the 2017 Kansas Legislature. The fine for a youth (14-17) violation is $60, while the fine for a child (0-13) restraint violation is $60 + a court cost charge of as much as $108.
Children under the age of four must be correctly secured in an approved child safety seat. Children, ages four through seven, must be securely belted into an approved booster seat unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches or heavier than 80 pounds, in which case, the booster may be removed and the child belted in without it. Children, ages eight through 13, must be safety-belted. In addition, the law prohibits persons under the age of 14 from riding in any part of a vehicle not intended for carrying passengers, such as a pickup bed.
The aim of Click It or Ticket is simple: To drastically reduce the number of preventable deaths and injuries that occur when unbelted drivers and passengers are involved in traffic crashes. According to KDOT, 92 percent of crash occupants who suffer no injuries of any kind are belted in. At the other end of the scale only 45 percent of those who suffer fatal injuries are belted in. While seat belts may not always protect from serious or fatal injury, certainly no other piece of equipment within the vehicle provides more protection.