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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

Holiday’s zero death toll could change

July 8, 2004

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— While preliminary information from the Kansas Highway Patrol showed no traffic fatalities over the Fourth of July weekend, there's a possibility that one death in Wichita may be attributed to a traffic accident.

Wichita police said Wednesday they were awaiting a ruling from the coroner on whether a death on Saturday resulted from a medical condition or the crash.

The last holiday period without a traffic fatality in Kansas was over Christmas in 1992, the patrol said.

A year ago, five people were killed during the Fourth of July holiday period, down from 12 in 2002. Since 1990 the highest death tolls for the holiday were 13 in 1991 and 1998, with just one death reported in 2000. The length of holiday counting periods varied from 30 to 102 hours, depending on the day of the week on which the Fourth of July fell.

Patrol Lt. John Eichkorn said the patrol continued to put as much emphasis as it could on use of seat belts and child restraints, an area where Kansas fell far short, he said. "We have a long way to go to get everybody to buckle up," he said.

During the July Fourth holiday period, from 6 p.m. Friday through midnight Monday, the highway patrol reported 235 safety-belt arrests and 128 warnings, with 82 child-restraint arrests and eight warnings.

Last year, he said, the patrol determined only 64 percent of Kansas adults were using seat belts, with child-restraint usage even lower. Nationally, seat belt usage averages 79 percent, Eichkorn said.

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