Brad Farrell thought he was driving safely.
“I had just pulled out of Spangles, and I was heading south on Broadway,” he said. “I wasn’t driving crazy. I wasn’t speeding.”
But after Farrell turned right from Broadway onto Kellogg Drive, a police officer pulled him over and wrote him a ticket for making an improper turn. The officer said Farrell had pulled into the wrong lane of traffic.
“I’ve been driving 24 years, and that’s the first time I’ve ever been pulled over like that,” he said.
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Wichita Municipal Court records show that for the second straight year, Broadway and Kellogg Drive was among the most ticketed intersections in Wichita in 2011.
The leader in tickets last year was the 8400 block of West 21st Street, which is halfway between Ridge and Tyler. Nearly all of those tickets were for speeding.
Although drivers sometimes complain about the time officers spend writing tickets, police officials say that if you live in Wichita, you’re more likely to die in a car crash than to become the victim of a homicide.
Police say the city’s ticket hot spots move from year to year because officers are constantly responding to citizen complaints and traffic accidents. Police began writing tickets on Kellogg Drive in 2009 after noticing large numbers of accidents involving drivers trying to make right turns onto Kellogg Drive as they prepared to head west on Kellogg. They were colliding with cars coming off the eastbound Kellogg exit.
A city ordinance says, “both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway."
Although the bulk of the tickets in 2009 were issued at Kellogg Drive and Main, the focus has since shifted to Broadway.
Farrell was ticketed at 8:05 a.m. on Sept. 29 – a day that saw police cite 47 drivers for making improper turns at the intersection.
As he was receiving his ticket, Farrell said, two other two drivers in front of him were being cited for the same offense.
“It was a like a herd of cattle waiting to be loaded onto a cattle truck,” he said.
Farrell said he still thinks he pulled into the right lane that day – even after going to court and watching a videotape made by a camera in the officer’s car. A judge nonetheless found him guilty, and he paid a $140 fine.
Municipal Court records
Wichita Municipal Court data show that over the past five years, Wichita police have cited an annual average of 70,955 drivers for moving violations. In 2011, the records show, 71,028 drivers were cited for 94,197 violations. That doesn’t include 17,917 parking tickets issued by police.
Speeding was the most common moving violation in 2011, accounting for 38.6 percent of the charges. The fastest speeder, a 19-year-old man, was in a Ford Mustang that was going 121 mph in a 45 mph zone when he was stopped at 11 p.m. on July 7 in the 5000 block of South Broadway. He was fined $431.
The data show that 23.6 percent of the 2011 citations were for non-speeding moving violations, such as running stop signs and making improper turns. Seat-belt violations accounted for 7.4 percent of the citations, tag violations for 5.6 percent and defective equipment for 4.9 percent.
The records show that 8.4 percent of the violations were for not having a driver’s license or not having proof of insurance. Half of the driver’s license violations and three-fourths of the insurance violations were dismissed – often after a driver went to court with a valid license or proper insurance papers.
Just under 1 percent of the tickets were issued to pedestrians, the data show, and 0.5 percent went to bicyclists. One of the bicyclists, a 50-year-old man, was cited for speeding in the 11900 block of West 14th Street on Nov. 5, 2008. The records do not show how fast he was riding, but they show that the charge was later dismissed. Efforts to reach the rider were unsuccessful.
Wichita police Sgt. Jerry Quick said he wasn’t surprised to hear that one of the top spots for writing construction zone speeding tickets last year was along South 119th Street West, which was the site of a street-widening project.
“We received a lot of complaints from area citizens and from construction companies about that,” he said.
Although the 119th Street project is finished, Quick said, drivers in west Wichita can expect more construction tickets this summer.
A project that begins next week will add dual left-turn lanes to all four approaches at 21st and Maize, and will probably generate its share of construction zone tickets, he said.
“We’re already receiving inquires and concerns from citizens about that one,” he said.