Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Time to buckle children up

February 14, 2001

During the 2000 Kansas legislative session, I proposed a bill to make automobile seat belt use a primary enforceable traffic safety law in Kansas. The proposal would give law enforcement officers the ability to stop and ticket drivers who don't wear seat belts. Seat belt use saves lives, plain and simple. The proposal failed last year, but I continue to support efforts to increase seat belt usage in Kansas.

Early in February, I signed a proclamation encouraging "Child Passenger Safety." I joined with many other state agencies and child advocacy groups in supporting appropriate passenger restraint practices for children. My legislative initiative for seat belt legislation this year includes some much-needed safety improvements to protect our children on Kansas roads.

My proposal would require all children, ages 0-4, up to 40 pounds, to be properly secured in a child passenger safety seat. Children ages 4-7, between 40 and 80 pounds, would be required to ride in an appropriately sized booster seat and safety belt. Children older than 7 should be properly restrained in the vehicle's existing safety belts. I also want to ensure that every child in a vehicle is properly restrained.

It's time to revise and improve our passenger restraint laws protecting children. Parents, legislators and law enforcement officers realize the importance of keeping our children buckled-up. When you get into a car with a child, no action you take at that moment will offer more safety and protection than fastening their seat belt or using a safety seat. Do yourself a favor and buckle your own seat belt, too.

Many people make the right choice and buckle their seat belts, not because it's the law, but because it's the safe and smart thing to do. Other people refuse to buckle up, even though they know they are breaking the law and risking their safety. If stronger enforcement and stiffer penalties can serve as an incentive to make more buckles click, it's worthwhile. More seat belt usage equates to fewer traffic deaths and injuries. That's a goal worth pursuing.

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