Archive for Thursday, May 8, 2008

Police remind drivers to buckle seat belts

May 8, 2008

The Basehor Police Department wants to remind residents to buckle up.

May 19 through June 1, Basehor police officers will be out in full force looking for drivers violating not only traffic laws but also Safety Belt Use and Child Passenger Safety Acts as well as a part of the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign.

"This is the third or fourth year we've participated in the campaign," Basehor Police Chief Lloyd Martley said. "Primarily the whole thing is based on seat belt usage awareness."

The Basehor Police Department is one of about 130 law enforcement agencies statewide that will be participating in the campaign, which was made possible by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. Officers will be putting in extra hours to enforce traffic and seat belt laws in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by unrestrained drivers and passengers involved in vehicle accidents.

According to KDOT's Bureau of Traffic Safety, more than 460 people died in traffic accidents in Kansas last year and 70 percent of those who lost their lives were not wearing a seat belt.

Martley said most vehicle accidents were caused by driver inattentiveness, and seat belts are drivers' and passengers' best protection against the unexpected.

"Anytime there's an accident, somebody wasn't paying attention somehow," Martley said. "Very seldom do they occur because of a mechanical malfunction. It's usually a distraction within the vehicle."

While officers cannot stop an adult driver for simply not wearing a seat belt, they do have the authority to make a primary stop if there are children under the age of 14 in the vehicle who are not properly restrained, Martley said.

Also, if a driver is stopped and the front seat passenger is not wearing a seat belt, that passenger can also be cited, he said.

"If we stop you for anything else and you're not wearing your seat belt, we can write you up for both," Martley said. "We're primarily looking for unrestrained children because that's a big part of this campaign. We can and will use that as a primary stop."

There are usually two Basehor officers on duty per shift, but the Basehor Police Department will be stepping that up to four officers per shift during the campaign. Martley said residents should be aware of the increased number of officers on the roadways as well as the heightened traffic enforcement.

"We're trying to get people to use their seat belts because they do in fact save lives," he said. "We will be out there and we will be enforcing it, so pay attention and buckle up."

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