Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

KDOT crackdown on K-7 not increasing local citations

July 21, 2005, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: July 21, 2005, 12:35 p.m.

Though a Kansas Department of Transportation program week seeks to crack down on traffic violations along Kansas Highway 7, the Lansing Police Department has not seen much difference in the number of citations written, said Police Chief Steve Wayman.

Wayman said Tuesday that though it was early in the week, he had not seen either an increase or decrease in citations. He said the point of the program was "not just to go out there and write everybody tickets."

"It's designed to help educate drivers about seat belts and safety," Wayman said.

The campaign began Monday along certain stretches of Kansas highways that have higher-than-average crash rates, which include K-7 between Kansas City, Kan., and Atchison. Wayman said local police departments were asked to cooperate in the campaign and would receive $500 for equipment from the state for their participation.

Departments participating in the KDOT program are not required to write any more tickets than usual, Wayman said. He said the department's records of citations would be sent to the state at the end of the week so that KDOT can analyze the statistics. Wayman said the stats would give the state an indication of seat belt usage, which is currently at 68 percent.

"Are seat belts being used out there - that's what it's about," he said.

Wayman said he thought he wasn't seeing an increase in citations because "most of our officers are very diligent in enforcement."

Officer Billy Blackwell II said he planned to keep a close eye on K-7 this week.

Blackwell said he generally writes six to 10 tickets per day, but on Monday, he had written 10 tickets in the first four hours of his shift.

Blackwell said he wanted to contribute to the combined effort of Lansing Police and KDOT by stopping speeders and checking for seat belt usage.

Blackwell said he liked to do traffic patrol, so he didn't need much incentive to pay close attention to traffic violations this week.

"It passes the time and might save someone's life," he said.

Blackwell said that when he prepares to pull someone over, he checks twice for seat belt compliance, once when the car passes him and once when the car pulls over. He said he looks the first time, before he turns on his lights, because drivers often buckle up when they realize they are being pulled over.

Kansas law requires all vehicle drivers and front seat passengers buckle up. Because failure to wear a seat belt is not a primary violation, it is not sufficient cause for officers to stop a motorist. However, drivers can get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt if they are pulled over for another reason, such as speeding.

Speeding tickets in Lansing come with a minimum fine of $75, plus $25 for court costs. Tickets for not wearing a seat belt come with a fine of $10 for adults and $45 for children. Blackwell said the fines imposed for traffic and other violations reminded him of a saying.

"There's an adage, 'You learn by having a little pain in your wallet' - but some people don't learn," Blackwell said.

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