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Archive for Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fewer parents buckling up children

August 24, 2005

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— A few more adults are using seat belts this year, but some of them are forgetting to do the same for their children.

The Kansas Department of Transportation reported Tuesday that 69 percent of adults used seat belts, up from 68 percent last year. But for children 14 and under, only 59 percent wore belts or rode in safety seats, down from 61 percent in 2004.

The department based its figures on surveys at 900 sites in 20 counties, conducted in March, April and May for children and in June and July for adults.

Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said the slight increase in seat belt use among adults is good news, but labeled the decline for children unacceptable.

"I'm dismayed by the fact that fewer adults are buckling up their children," she said in a statement.

The department didn't have an explanation for the changes. The decline in seat belt and safety seat use for children occurred despite a $300,000 advertising campaign designed to send the message that law enforcement agencies would rigorously enforce safety laws.

Kansas law requires children under 4 to ride in child safety seats, and children ages 4 through 13 and drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. Officers can only ticket people for violating that law if they first stop a driver for another reason, such as speeding.

Child advocates have pushed for a stronger passenger safety law since a national report in 2001 gave Kansas' law an "F."

The Kansas Senate approved a bill this year to require all minors to wear seat belts or ride in safety seats, but it died in the House. The same thing happened in 2001, 2002 and 2004.

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