Archive for Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Use of seat belts just common sense

May 29, 2002

To underscore the importance of the use of child-safety restraints and seat belts in vehicles, the Kansas Highway Patrol has launched a new safety campaign.

In Kansas, troopers and other law officers can stop and ticket drivers who have children in their vehicles who are not secured by child-safety seats or seat belts. The law requires all children under the age of 4 to be buckled into a safety seat and for all children from 4 to 14 to wear safety belts.

While the law requires it, common sense and concern for children should dictate it. No child should be allowed to roam around a vehicle that is moving. A tap on the brakes can result in a bump on the head; a head-on collision can mean a child still traveling at 60 mph could sail through the windshield.

Why not take a few seconds and ensure that all children are safe?

The law is not as strict concerning use of seat belts by adults. And that's unfortunate.

Kansas law requires all passengers regardless of their age who are seated in the front seat of a vehicle to wear a safety belt. But the law hamstrings law enforcement officers. Unbuckled adults may be cited and fined when they are stopped for other traffic violations. But law officers cannot stop a car only for a seat-belt violation.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, seat belt use among Kansans who are 14 and older declined between 1999 and 2001. In 1999, an estimated 63 percent were buckling up. But by last year, that dropped to 60 percent.

It's amazing that two out of every five people in the front seat of a car is not wearing a seat belt.

The way to encourage seat belt use is by increased enforcement and by always ensuring that children are buckled in when they're in a vehicle. That way, the use of seat belts will be second nature.

The statistics are clear: Seat belts save lives if they're used.

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