Crime & Courts

Police will be patrolling more starting Monday. Here's what they're looking for.

Kansas law enforcement agencies will be strictly enforcing seat belt laws from May 21 to June 3 for the state's annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign.
Kansas law enforcement agencies will be strictly enforcing seat belt laws from May 21 to June 3 for the state's annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign. File photo

You might see more cop cars than usual while you're out and about driving.

That's because Monday is the official start of the annual statewide seat belt enforcement campaign called "Click It or Ticket." And law enforcement from at least 160 agencies are expected to be out in droves across Kansas — the Wichita Police Department, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and Kansas Highway Patrol among them.

This year the campaign runs through June 3. And drivers, law enforcement say, can expect strict enforcement of Kansas seat belt and child restraint laws around the clock.

The goal: reduce traffic deaths and injuries that could be prevented by buckling up. Other traffic laws will also be enforced.

Fastening your seat belt "can save your life. It's really simple. It takes just a few seconds to put it on," Wichita police spokesman Paul Cruz said.

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In Kansas, everyone is required to be buckled in when riding in most types of vehicles. (School buses are one exception.) Children under age 4 must be secured in an approved child safety seat. Kids ages 4 to 7 have to be in a booster seat until they are taller than 4-foot-9 or heavier than 80 pounds.

Everyone older than 8, including adults, must wear a safety belt.

Penalties for not wearing a seat belt or using approved child restraint seats range from $30 to $168.

Wichita police and the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office plan to be especially vigilant after nightfall, because seat belt usage tends to diminish after dark, authorities say.

Last year, nearly half of the 359 people killed in traffic crashes weren't wearing a seat belt, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. Fifty-six percent of 18- to 34-year-olds killed weren't buckled up.

Men ages 21 to 34 driving pickup trucks and drivers in rural areas who aren't wearing seat belts are among those most often killed in unrestrained traffic crashes, KDOT said.

In Kansas last year, about 82 percent of people used seat belts. Nationally, the average is about 90 percent.

"Our goal is 100 percent compliance. It doesn’t matter where you go, drivers need to buckle up for every ride, every time because a deadly crash can happen to anyone," Chris Bortz, KDOT Traffic Safety Program manager, said.

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign is funded through a KDOT grant.

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Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker
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