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Wichita speeders ticketed by police 21,548 times in 2013

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, at 7:46 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 9, 2014, at 7:55 a.m.

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Wichita traffic violations

 

89,466

Number of moving violations, parking violations and misdemeanor traffic-related offenses charged in Wichita Municipal Court in 2013

21,548

Number of speeding charges

$1,221,435

Speeding fines assessed. The total for all moving violations was $3,681,967.

8

People ticketed for driving over 100 mph

116

Fastest speed clocked by police that resulted in charges

3,063

Violations for inattentive driving

1,961

Charges issued for DUIs

35

Citations for texting while driving

Source: Eagle analysis of Wichita Municipal Court data

Top spots for speeding tickets

Below are the top addresses where speeders were cited by Wichita police in 2013.

9400 W. Kellogg, west of Tyler

6800 E. 13th St., at Armour

8500 E. Kellogg, west of the Turnpike

9800 E. Central, east of Webb

2400 N. Hillside, north of 23rd Street

9100 W. 21st St., west of Tyler

700 N. I-235

8800 E. Kellogg, west of the Turnpike

1900 S. Greenwich, north of Mount Vernon

1800 S. Oliver, at Funston

Source: Eagle analysis of Wichita Municipal Court data

Speeding, the No. 1 moving violation doled out by Wichita police last year, accounted for a quarter of all traffic charges processed through Wichita Municipal Court in 2013, racking up more than $1.2 million in fines for the city’s heavy-footed drivers.

Motorists were ticketed 21,548 times for disobeying speed limits in Wichita, an analysis of city court database records shows. As in past years, Kellogg remained a popular road for speeders, earning nearly 4,500 charges.

The stretch listed as 9400 W. Kellogg, just west of Tyler, was the location speeders in Wichita were most likely to get caught last year. Officers patrolling there ticketed people 582 times.

“Generally speaking, our traffic guys go where there’s speeders,” said Lt. Brian White, acting bureau commander for the Wichita Police Department’s Patrol West. Traffic officers who work out of his bureau are responsible for that stretch of road.

Other high-ticket addresses in town included East 13th and Armour, 9800 E. Central near Hawker Beechcraft, and North Hillside at 24th Street, court records show. The city assessed $1,221,435 in speeding fines last year.

Speed, White said, often plays a role in crash. “That’s why we write a lot of speeding tickets,” he said.

“We’re not out here to make enemies,” White said. “We’re out here to save people from being involved in serious accidents, injuries accidents and ... also property damage.”

Nearly 90,000 tickets

The city’s database, obtained through a records request, lists nearly 90,000 traffic, parking and traffic-related misdemeanor criminal offenses charged through Wichita Municipal Court in 2013. It is published in a searchable format on Kansas.com, The Eagle’s website.

Next to speeding, parking posed the biggest problem for motorists in Wichita, drawing 14,917 charges and $344,181 in fines. Violations for insurance, seat belts and tags rounded out the top five.

Records show that motorists were hit with a variety of charges during all times of day and night as they navigated Wichita’s streets over the 12-month period.

Traffic violations were issued to people in 881 Mustangs, 798 BMWs, 62 Porsches and 39 Corvettes. Police last year also cited one hearse, five school buses and 48 motorized bicycles.

On an average day in 2013, Wichita drivers were cited 243 times, including 59 for speeding, 40 for parking, 10 for careless or inattentive driving and five for driving under the influence. According to Wichita Municipal Court, $3,681,967 in fines was assessed for moving violations last year.

Last year, drivers between the ages of 20 and 29 were most likely to get a speeding ticket. Men were cited for speeding more often than women, but only by 10 percentage points.

Over the 12-month period, eight drivers – four men, four women – were ticketed for speeds exceeding 100 mph, the database shows. All but one of the offenses occurred along Kellogg. The other took place in the 3300 block of North Hillside.

Police recorded the fastest speed that resulted in charges – 116 mph – at 1:42 a.m. on Jan. 9 at 1000 E. Kellogg, just east of downtown. The 29-year-old driver was fined $385.

Zac Freeman, now 30, admits he was racing along the the highway that morning. He was driving a green 2001 Ford Mustang.

“It had been a yearlong build on the car, and I had just got it done,” said Freeman, who said he rebuilds cars.

He decided to test the car’s speed, he said. He said he saw no one around: “Literally there was no headlights and taillights” on the highway.

“It didn’t take long to get up to speed,” Freeman said. “I maybe had it floored for four seconds.”

Moments later, Freeman spotted the patrol car. He said he pulled over and accepted the $385 fine without argument.

In addition to ticketing him for driving nearly double Kellogg’s 60 mph speed limit, the officer cited Freeman for careless driving that night, according to the database. He said he paid $440 in total costs and fines.

“I knew I was wrong. I didn’t laugh when the cop gave me the ticket,” Freeman said. He said he thinks the move kept him out of jail.

“It wasn’t funny,” he said. “It was a lapse of judgment.”

Traffic enforcement

Although some drivers think targeted patrols are a nuisance, Sgt. Kelly O’Brien, a Patrol South traffic supervisor, said that writing citations is “100 percent based on public safety.”

Every month, he looks over a list of wrecks and decides where to send his traffic officers. An increase in crashes in an area of the city, he said, will often trigger more ticket writing by police. The department also works closely with city traffic engineers to ease woes on Wichita’s streets.

“If it (the trouble) is running a stop sign ... that’s what we’re going to write tickets for,” O’Brien said.

If drivers are running red lights at intersections or making wide turns, officers will write tickets there.

“By gosh, we go over there and traffic officers start enforcing the violations ... and crashes go down. It’s amazing,” O’Brien said.

Last year police ticketed 1,689 drivers for red light violations and 1,869 for running stop signs, court records show. The top three intersections where drivers ran red lights were Douglas and Washington, Central and Gilda, and Broadway and Kellogg Drive.

Drivers were most likely to run stop signs at Hillside and Ross Parkway, near the Planeview neighborhood, and the intersection of Mellor and Webb, which is located just north of Central.

More than 2,100 were cited for incorrect turns, many of them in downtown.

Speeding also is a frequent cause of collisions, said White, the acting bureau commander of Patrol West.

Targeting traffic problems on some of the city’s busiest streets, including Woodlawn, Rock and Kellogg, are among Wichita police enforcement projects planned for 2014, O’Brien said.

This week, officers will begin a two-week campaign focusing on teenage seat-belt use around some of Wichita’s high schools. The patrol runs Monday through March 7.

The overall goal is public safety, White and O’Brien both said.

“The chief has made traffic enforcement an important issue for us and the community for 2014, and we’ll be looking at different ways to make sure that the roads are safer ... and a lot of times that can mean more strict and more enforcement efforts,” White said.

“In the end what you what to do is create safe roads for the people in this community. That’s the bottom line: Creating safe roads.”

Parking violations

Parking again ranked high on the list of offenses for which Wichita drivers received traffic tickets. Most of the tickets were written downtown, the database shows, during weekday business hours or at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.

The address of the most parking tickets last year was 214 S. Broadway – Lot B, a 233-space city-owned parking lot southeast of the Finney State Office Building. Drivers there received 1,761 parking violations last year – nearly three times more than any other single location in the city. Wichita City Hall and the Sedgwick County District Courthouse also were among top ticket areas.

Wichitan Dane O’Connor said he was “very frustrated” when he got a $45 fine for parking in a private lot at 214 S. Broadway on March 7.

He said confusion over which spaces were open to the public led to his parking misstep. His was among 22 issued in the lot that day. He remembers paying about $80 for it, including court costs.

Seventy-four spaces on the east end of the lot are open for public parking. The rest are reserved. Several blue signs mark the different sides.

O’Connor said he found the citation when he returned to his car, which was sitting in a permit-only parking stall.

“The parking lot is not divided,” O’Connor said. “It’s not clearly marked.”

Ryan Wagner, general manager of the City Park, which runs Lot B and other Wichita parking venues, said parking in a private space is among the most common violations on the lot.

Drivers who park unlawfully in handicap spots or who take up multiple spaces will also prompt him to call the Wichita Police Department’s Ambassadors, civilian employees who are responsible for writing parking tickets downtown.

Last year, two of the Ambassadors each cited parking violators more than 3,000 times.

“That’s not us being proactive. That’s us responding to the needs of the community,” O’Brien, the Patrol South traffic supervisor, said about citations written for parking in a private lot. “A business owner downtown or a lot owner downtown, they’re calling saying, ‘Hey, this vehicle is abandoned on my property. This vehicle is illegally parked on my property.’”

Cindy Kane was issued her parking ticket at the Finney lot on July 1. She said she didn’t know, though, until she received a payment reminder for the $95 fine in the mail.

“It was my daughter. She had my car down at the state building,” Kane, a 53-year-old Wichitan, explained.

“It was way too much for a parking ticket, let me tell you.”

Kane said her daughter eventually paid for it.

“I’m not going to pay for her parking tickets,” she said, with a laugh.

Her advice: “Watch where you park and pay your fines.”

*******************

Five years of fines

Over the past five years, the total amount of fines assessed by Wichita Municipal Court for moving and speeding violations has decreased. Assessments for parking violations have been on the decline since 2010. Moving violations include fines amounts for speeding.

20092010201120122013
Moving5,145,5884,773,2154,660,2804,889,514$3,681,967
Parking386,157.11516,450.80420,924.23378,548.30$344,181
Speeding1,523,524.931,434,854.411,363,477.111,324,929.67$1,221,435

Source: Wichita Municipal Court

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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