Governor’s Column: Legislation not tough enough
The recently completed 2001 session of the Kansas Legislature sent some mixed signals about the commitment to safety on Kansas roads.
While the Legislature rejected a measure to provide better child passenger safety laws in Kansas, I am pleased with work on tougher penalties and more accountability for those convicted of multiple offenses for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The driving under the influence measure provides longer sentences and more post-release supervision for those convicted of multiple drunken driving offenses. It also authorizes the use of ignition interlock devices for habitual DUI offenders.
That means a judge can order installation of a breath-alcohol screening device on a car's ignition. If the driver is drunk, the car won't start.
These are smart actions that send strong public safety messages.
The same lawmakers discussed but failed to pass another traffic safety proposal for passenger restraint laws protecting children.
I know parents, legislators and law enforcement officers all 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 for that child than fastening their seat belt or using a safety seat.
My plan would have brought Kansas child safety laws up to modern day standards.
All children, ages 0-4, up to 40 pounds, should be properly secured in a child passenger safety seat.
Children who are 4 years old through 7 years old and between 40 and 80 pounds, should be required to ride in an appropriately sized booster seat and safety belt.
Children older than 7 years old should be properly restrained in the vehicle's existing safety belts.
Kansas lawmakers adjourned the 2001 session of the Legislature without serious consideration of this proposal.
The good news is lawmakers will be back next winter to try again. The DUI laws that successfully passed this year were defeated in past sessions. Persistence pays off.
I will continue to work for better traffic safety measures in Kansas, and I ask for your help.
You know you should not drive if you've been drinking.
You also know the importance of proper passenger restraint for children. We should all exercise some common sense and good judgment to help make Kansas roads a safer place.