Sheriff’s office joins seatbelt enforcement campaign near Kansas high schools – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Sheriff’s office joins seatbelt enforcement campaign near Kansas high schools

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office has joined a two-week campaign to encourage traffic law compliance around schools. Running through March 7, the sheriff’s office and the Kansas Highway Patrol are participating in an annual seatbelt enforcement campaign around area high schools.

Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn said officers would focus on an epidemic of the last several years – drivers and passengers not properly restrained.

“In an effort to change this trend, law enforcement across Kansas will be extra vigilant when patrolling around schools,” Dunn said.

But, officers will also issues citations for other violations of traffic laws, whether speeding, texting or failing to buckle up, she said.

The SAFE initiative (Seatbelts Are For Everyone) is a program administered by students at the high school they attend. Currently, 54 counties totaling 124 schools participate in the program statewide.

In 2012, according to Kansas Department of Transportation statistics, Kansas tragically lost 43 teens in vehicle crashes, 74 percent of whom were not properly restrained. KDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety and Technology is hosting this two-week awareness campaign in hopes of decreasing that number, and increasing seatbelt usage. KDOT and law enforcement partners across the state have spent over 20 years educating Kansas teens on the dangers of driving without a seatbelt.

In 2013, the observed seat belt rate for the ages of 15-17 was 81 percent. To put this into perspective, the rate for the same age group was 61 percent in 2008-09. This program is making a difference for our youths.

“Troopers will be working with local law enforcement partners in an aggressive campaign focused around area schools to educate and enforce seat belt laws,” said Col. Ernest E. Garcia, Superintendent of the Patrol. “Seatbelts have been proven to save lives and prevent injuries and our goal is to make sure all young drivers buckle up.”

Updated March 1, 2014.

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