Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

KDOT steps up efforts to reduce K-7 accidents

July 14, 2005

Speeders and seat belt slackers beware: the Kansas Department of Transportation has announced a new weeklong initiative aimed at reducing traffic and seat belt violations.

Local law enforcement agencies, including Lansing Police Department, will work together with sheriff departments and the Highway Patrol for a stepped up campaign beginning Monday along K-7 between Kansas City, Kan., and Atchison.

"The objective of these enforcement efforts is to bring attention to highway safety and ultimately to save lives," said Pete Bodyk, chief of the Bureau of Traffic Safety for KDOT, which organizes and funds the mobilizations.

Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman said, "We're happy to be part of this; it's a good program."

For their part in the campaign, Lansing police will increase use of radar and lidar (a detection tool that measures cars' speeds with a laser).

Wayman said the department will be videotaping intersections to check compliance with traffic light signals and provide proof of violations in case ticketed motorists contest the charges.

"You'd be surprised how many people run red lights," Wayman said. "We were doing it last week and had nine violations in one hour."

The fine for running a red light in Lansing is $150. Wayman said he thought that was an appropriate amount.

Wayman said officers would also check for seat belt compliance. Kansas law requires all vehicle drivers and front seat passengers to be buckled up. Because failure to wear a seat belt is not a primary violation, it is not sufficient cause for officers to stop a motorist.

But, Wayman said, if an officer sees children moving around unsecured in a car, the officer will pull the car over, as failure to use a child seat for children younger than 4 years is a primary violation.

Unlike last year, when the entire length of state highways and interstates was monitored, KDOT is partnering with law enforcement agencies to focus on relatively short stretches of highway with a higher-than-average crash rate. The 53-mile K-7 corridor between Atchison and Kansas City meets those criteria.

Bodyk said a reduction in traffic-related fatalities and injuries was a major concern of KDOT. The emphasis on seat belt use is part of the ongoing "Click It Or Ticket" campaign and is fueled by Kansas' low seat belt usage rate of 68 percent.

"We still have a third of our drivers who are not wearing seat belts," Bodyk said.

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