Kansans buckling up more

Seatbelts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More Kansas drivers have been buckling up, but scores of citations are still being issued to drivers in the state who aren’t wearing their seat belts.

Dave Corp, law enforcement liaison for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said seat belt usage has steadily climbed over recent years and is now at 81 percent statewide, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1qinkEW ). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said nationwide, 87 percent of people fastened their seat belts in 2013, and that Kansas ranked 40th on the list.

In Sedgwick County, nearly 91 percent of adults and about 87.5 percent of children were using seat belts in 2013, according to KDOT. Adults in Cowley, Harvey and Sumner counties also topped the 2013 statewide average, while Butler and Reno counties fell a few percentage points below the state average.

Corp said the most dramatic increases in seat belt usage in Kansas are among teen drivers. During enforcement projects targeting high schools in the spring, officials wrote citations for about three adults for every teen, he said. As those children grow up and have children of their own seat belt usage will increase even more, he said.

“This’ll all be a moot issue,” Corp said.

In Kansas, occupants of a passenger vehicle manufactured with safety belts must buckle up when it’s moving. Exceptions include for mail carriers and newspaper carriers working their routes and people who have a doctor’s note explaining why they can’t wear seat belts.

Despite the apparent increasing seat belt usage, more than 1,000 people were cited in Sedgwick County last month for not wearing their seat belts.

“I was surprised by the numbers,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Mattingly. “That’s entirely too many people not wearing their seat belts.”

The citation totals for the county, are however, down from more than 600 violations during a similar enforcement project last year.

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