HAYS, KS -- The Fort Hays State University Police Department will join with law enforcement agencies across the nation to put a special focus on drivers and passengers who fail to use seat belts in motor vehicles.
Under the Special Traffic Enforcement Program, and in conjunction with the national Click It or Ticket campaign, municipal police departments, university police departments, sheriff's departments and military police will crack down on impaired and unbuckled drivers from May 23 through June 5.
" Of course we give these tickets now and we will continue to do so after June 5," FHSU Police Chief Ed Howell said. "But we will put a special focus on enforcement of the seat belt law during this period as a way to bring attention to this important safety measure."
Howell has instituted a three-step policy for his department that consists of education, options and enforcement. He said the announcement of the May 23 through June 5 emphasis on seat belt usage was intended to fulfill the education component of his philosophy. "We are educating people about the need to use seat belts so that, hopefully, they will choose the option of complying with the law and enforcement will not be necessary." However, he said his department was committed to an equal application of all three of the steps, so they will have no hesitancy in exercising the enforcement step for those who fail to comply with the law.
In Kansas, the passenger restraint/seat belt law is referred to as a "secondary law," which means that the operator of a vehicle must be stopped for some other traffic violation before an officer can issue a ticket for failure to use a seat belt. Child passenger safety restraining systems (child car seats and seat positioning boosters) are different, however. A driver who transports a child under the age of 4 without properly using an approved restraint system or who transports a child between the ages of 4 and 14 without using seat belts can be stopped for just that infraction.
The FHSU Police Department will step up traffic patrols and may have additional officers on duty. "We hope this stepped up presence will encourage drivers to use seat belts and passenger restraint systems," Howell said.