Safe click — More adults should embrace importance of buckling up

5/18/2014

When it comes to seat-belt usage, Kansas lags behind the rest of the nation.

When it comes to seat-belt usage, Kansas lags behind the rest of the nation.

Such news from the Kansas Department of Transportation wasn't a surprise, however, considering state lawmakers were slow to put a primary seat-belt law — a proven lifesaver — in place.

The state made a turn in the right direction a few years ago when the Kansas Legislature finally approved a primary seat-belt law that would allow law enforcement officers to stop drivers not wearing seat belts, as opposed to only allowing officers to cite drivers stopped for another offense.

Compliance in Kansas started to improve, and the state now ranks 39th in the nation in seat-belt use, according to the KDOT, with some 79.5 percent of travelers buckling up. The nationwide rate of compliance is 86 percent.

As poor as Kansas' figures may seem, they are an improvement. In 2005, Kansas ranked a dismal 43rd in the nation with an estimated rate of seat belt use of just 69 percent.

The tougher seat-belt law — a strategy that drove up compliance in other states — has law enforcement officers in Kansas now taking advantage in looking for adults and children not safely restrained.

And, they are stepping up their pursuit of offenders starting today through June 1 as part of the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign.

Unfortunately, even a tougher law still hasn't convinced some Kansans to wear a seat belt. Reasons for not buckling up range from stubbornness in resisting a governmental mandate — even one put in place to keep people safe — to the supposed annoyance and inconvenience of wearing a seat belt.

It's bad enough when adults don't comply. Children rely on their parents and guardians to protect them, so adults should be penalized when they make the horrible decision to not have youngsters in their vehicles properly restrained.

Plus, when children are buckled up as a matter of routine, the safety step will become habit as they grow older.

With adults setting a good example, seat-belt compliance will continue to rise — and lives will be saved. That alone should drive more people to buckle up.

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