Archive for Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Driving danger

October 25, 2000


To the editor:

The Wichita Eagle recently wrote a series on accident-prone drivers in Kansas. Your newspaper carried an Associated Press summary of the series, and I would like to take this opportunity to respond to it.

While the Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) took 1.35 million actions last year restricting, suspending or revoking nearly 100,000 drivers I am the first to agree that the Kansas DMV does need to be tougher on dangerous drivers. That's why, for the past several months, we have been working on a proposal to change our state regulations to crack down on bad drivers.

We appreciate support of our proposal to send a warning letter on a third ticket conviction, a 30-day restriction on the fourth, a 90-day suspension on the fifth and a one-year suspension on the sixth. This regulation is expected to result in hundreds more actions taken against licensees with moving violations, which currently only restricts a license for 30 days on a fifth or subsequent conviction.

Meanwhile, the law does not require, or even allow, the division to take action against drivers based simply on the number of accidents. If a driver at fault goes unticketed for an accident, we do not know about it. Local ordinance violations like inattentive driving don't count against a driver's state driving record.

The Wichita Eagle report polled neighboring states to compare action against drivers with moving violations. However, distinguishing Kansas from surrounding states is not a comparison of apples to apples. Iowa is about 30 times more likely to take action against drivers for repeatedly committing moving violations. However, the report never mentioned that Iowa does not allow drivers to "buy out" tickets, something that frequently happens in Kansas. In Colorado, not wearing a seatbelt counts as a moving violation. In Kansas, it does not. Other states include DUIs. By law, Kansas handles those separately.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. It also requires personal responsibilitya trait that unfortunately is sometimes missing. No matter how strict the law, some bad drivers will undoubtedly continue to break it.

Sheila J. Walker, director

Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles

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