Archive for Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Child advocates driven to boost seat belt use

Legislature to hear renewed call for stricter laws

December 27, 2005


— Children's advocates will try again this legislative session to strengthen seat belt and booster seat laws as Kansas trails most states in seat belt usage.

For child advocates, it's a question of safety and money.

Increased use of seat belts and child-safety seats saves lives and could earn the state more federal highway funds, they say.

"Many parents look to the law for what is safe behavior for their children," said Cindy D'Ercole, a spokeswoman for Kansas Action for Children. "Current Kansas law is misleading."

Kansas' seat belt use rate is 69 percent, which is the sixth-lowest in the nation. The national average is 82 percent.

In Kansas, children under 14 are required to wear seat belts. But Kansans 14 years old and older are only required to wear seat belts if they are riding in the front seat.

Eudora resident Kelci Younger buckles her 18-month-old daughter, Kailyn, into a car seat after finishing some last-minute Christmas shopping Friday afternoon at SuperTarget, 3201 Iowa. Some child advocates will be pushing for stricter seat belt laws during the upcoming legislative session.

Eudora resident Kelci Younger buckles her 18-month-old daughter, Kailyn, into a car seat after finishing some last-minute Christmas shopping Friday afternoon at SuperTarget, 3201 Iowa. Some child advocates will be pushing for stricter seat belt laws during the upcoming legislative session.

And the enforcement of this law is secondary, which means law enforcement officers must witness a violation of another traffic law before stopping someone for not buckling up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt use averages 11 percentage points more in states that have primary enforcement laws, which means authorities can issue tickets for not wearing a seat belt without having to cite another violation.

"The new data make clear that the difference between states with high seat belt use and states with low seat belt use is a primary seat belt law," said Phil Haseltine, executive director of the National Safety Council's Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign.

Haseltine also said it made sense for Kansas to tighten its law because under new transportation legislation signed by President Bush, the state stands to gain $11 million if it passes a primary enforcement seat belt law, or achieves seat belt use of 85 percent or more for two consecutive years.

But efforts at changing the seat belt laws have run into roadblocks in recent years by lawmakers who believe additional restrictions represent too much government intrusion.

State Rep. Gary Hayzlett, R-Lakin, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, isn't supportive of changing the seat belt law.

"We can't continue to legislate to get rid of stupidity," Hayzlett said. He said parents should be responsible for making sure their children are safe.

Proposals that will be before the Legislature when it convenes Jan. 9 would extend primary enforcement of seat belt usage to children ages 14 to 18, and require mandatory use of booster seats for children until they are 8 years old or taller than 57 inches. Currently, booster seats are mandatory for children up to 4 years old.


Fishman 12 years ago

If we can't legislate to get rid of stupidity, then why do we have so many roundabouts in town now?? Just a thought?

allateup2 12 years ago

I agree with Rep. Gary Hayslett Its time the government and these do-gooders stop trying to legislate stupidity, as well as morality. What happened to personal responsobility in this country. Of course someone will say its for the childrens sake but where does the intrusion end. Will we be in the homes next requiring the safety locks on the kitchen cabinents and all the other baby proofing home items. again I say PERSONAL RESPONSOBILITY!

ladysilk 12 years ago

The problem is that the law does not reflect best practice for use of child restraints. Parents who do not know how to find the information just assume that the law is the safest. The law needs to reflect the safest possible practice for child restraints so all parents are aware of how to best to buckle up a child.

cms 12 years ago

Does the government have a program to subsidize or purchase child restraints for low income families?

BTW, I overheard a woman the other day say that her mother said she never would have been able to have six children these days because she could afford a big enough car to legally transport them. No kidding.

christie 12 years ago

I don't belive this is an attempt to legislate stupidity, but an attempt to save millions of tax dollars putting the lives of people back together again because they don't wear seat belts.

Most children do not have the knowledge to wear a seatbelt so this is good legislation.

jranderson 12 years ago

Maybe we should spend more money on educating people about seat belt safety instead of making laws people will break anyway. I don't believe people want to harm their children, they just don't realize the danger they put their children in. Maybe educate the children in school. Maybe have seatbelt checkpoints where you aren't punished but assisted. I'm sure there are other alternatives to more laws.

And good idea 'cms'.

gccs14r 12 years ago



Case in point, I was ejected from a car when I was three. The car I was in didn't come with seat belts and there was no legislation requiring their use back in the 60s. Fortunately, none of us died (one of my sisters was ejected, too), but I have permanent vision problems as a result of the accident.

My dad went out and immediately purchased a car with seat belts and we were required to wear them from then on.

A couple of days ago I saw a couple driving down the road with their kid upside-down in the back seat, stretching up to brush the headliner with his shoes. If the cops can't pull people over for that, they should be able to.

Liberty 12 years ago

Have you ever seen them want less laws and enforcement and more freedom and a return to personal responsibility for your own safety instead of constant government intrusion?

The agenda is for more and more control and make it sound like the people really want to be controlled (there are a few people that can't seem to function without the government telling them what to do). Just another excuse to create more of a police state. But will people be dumb enough to go along with it this time? Or are they starting to wise up and resist by speaking against things like this??

Liberty 12 years ago

Just think how much money we could save if government was restrained and didn't spend all of our money on controlling the people... You could keep your money in your pocket and have freedom too.

lawrencechick 12 years ago

For a town with the most bachelor degrees per capita I see an unbelievable amount of stupid people with their children bouncing around a moving car. It is my business when I have to help pay your medical bills on something totally preventable!

stater1977 12 years ago

Rep. Hayzlett is holding on to his principle, but in the mean time real kids are dying in Kansas. His statement, "We can't continue to legislate to get rid of stupidity," implies that stupidity causes people not to properly restrain their children. The irony of his position is that he is the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Transportation, and particulary motor vehicles are heavily regulated to keep us safe. Even smart people look to the law for guidance in technical areas, which after all, are improving all the time. All this law does is reflect current thinking, or best practice. Passage will bring Kansas up to speed with 34 other states that have enacted booster seat legislation.

gccs14r 12 years ago

Yeah, Liberty, and we could have heavy metals in our drinking water, cars that explode on impact, and air blackened with soot. Sounds like a great place.

blessed3x 12 years ago

Does any know the actual laws? I had someone tell me once that all children 80 lbs and under had to be in some sort of child restraint seat (carseat, booster seat, etc...) Good luck getting that 80 lb, 11-year-old to sit in a booster seat. Shoot, I know adults that would barely meet that criteria.

I have a 60 lb 8 year old that has been in a lap/shoulder belt for a while now. I'm probably breaking the law, but I don't know for certain.

buckledup 12 years ago

Here is the deal. Vehicle manufacturers create seat belt systems for occupants who are 4'9" tall. Our Child Passenger Safety Act (KSA 8-1344) which gets an 'F' rating from national safety organizations tells 4 year olds to just buckle up in a seat belt not designed for their heighth. This makes the seat belt uncomfortable and often unused by this age group(50% in KS) and they do not form the constant habit of safely buckling up. What should parents of 4-8 year olds do? Law or no law, be a parent and invest the whopping $12 for a booster seat. This seat lifts the childs smaller body up and makes the seat belt system designed for adults fit the child's body properly.

Also know that the Child Passenger Safety Act is a primary law and law enforcement not only can, but should pull you over solely for having any occupant under 14 years of age unbuckled. The secondary law spoken of in the article is the Safety Belt Use Act (KSA 8-2501) and is for occupants over 14. Buckle up.

Dixie Jones 12 years ago

yeah what are the seat belt laws in ks??? age and weight ?? anyone know ???

glockenspiel 12 years ago

Child seat laws are good. Telling adults they have to wear seat belts is a violation of their rights. Freedom requires the ability to make our own mistakes. If we can't make our own dumb decisions, then we are not free.

Furthermore, police have better things to be doing with their time than giving seat belt citations.

Aileen Dingus 12 years ago

They're pretty much what buckledup said. Here it is from

The Child Passenger Safety Act ( KSA 8-1344) is a primary law. REQUIREMENTS: All children younger than four must be in a federally-approved child safety seat. Children age four but under 14 must be protected by a safety belt. APPLIES TO: All drivers transporting children. All vehicles designed for carrying 10 passengers or less. Kansas residents and non-residents alike. All seating positions in vehicle. Pickup trucks registered for 12,000 pounds Farm trucks registered for 16,000 pounds. OTHER PROVISIONS: Drivers may be stopped solely for a violation of this law. Only drivers may be cited for violations. There is no violation if the children (ages 4 but under 14 years old) being transported exceeds the number of securing locations and all securing locations are in use by children. Only a single violation exists even when more than one child in a vehicle is not properly restrained. Convictions are not considered moving violations. $10 of the fine and court costs may be waived if safety restraining system is obtained. Persons under the age of 14 are prohibited from riding in any portion of the vehicle not intended for passengers; this includes riding in the back of pickup trucks.

The Kansas Safety Belt Use Act (KSA 8-2503) is a secondary law. APPLIES TO: All front seat occupants unless specifically exempted. Passenger cars, vans and certain trucks manufactured with safety belts in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle safety Standard (FMVSS) 208. Vehicles registered in Kansas and in all other states Vehicles that are in motion DOES NOT APPLY TO: Vehicles designed for carrying more than 10 passengers. Vehicles constructed on a truck chassis registered for more than 12,000 pounds. Farm trucks registered for more than 16,000 pounds. Motorcycles and trailers OTHER PROVISIONS: Unless there is another primary violation of law, drivers may not be stopped for a safety belt violation. Citations for violations may not be issued without citing for the violation that caused the stop. Drivers may be cited at scene of accident absent other violation. Passengers must be cited separately from drivers. EXEMPTIONS: Occupants who possess a written statement from a licensed physician. U.S. mail carriers while actually engaged in delivery and collection of mail. Newspaper persons while actually engaged in newspaper delivery. Occupants covered by the Child Passenger Safety Act.

Aileen Dingus 12 years ago

"OTHER PROVISIONS: Drivers may be stopped solely for a violation of this law."

So I guess the driver of the car with the upside down child COULD have been pulled over specifically for that.

I don't get the secondary law though- does it just say that if you're in the front seat you need to wear your seatbelt?

Liberty 12 years ago


Your government is already made sure that you get your daily amount of heavy metals in your water by putting in sodium flouride in the water supply in the city and then they tell you that it is good for you as it dumbs you down. It is a waste product from industrial plants that they have decided to feed you, whether you want it or not. They say it is so you won't get cavities, but calcium flouride is the correct chemical that is naturally found in some water supplies that has that effect. Sodium flouride has the effect of dumbing you down. It lowers your IQ and is popular in Russia for controlling the people and keeping them docile to be more easily controlled.

As far as cars blowing up, I don't think government has stopped any of that (only after the fact). The public will stop the selling of cars that blow up by not buying that company's car. I suggest you get off of the heavy metals and remember what it was like when this country was free, not falling for every new law that the government wants to put all of us under. We need to repeal existing laws and only keep those that are necessary, not keep increasing laws to make a police state.

SAHM2tylrnathan 12 years ago

There is at least one program in Topeka that rents new car seats for $10/year to anyone who wants them, regardless of income. It is run through Doorstep and Success By 6 (United Way). Before they give you an infant or toddler car seat you have to watch them install it correctly and then demonstrate it yourself. (There is no installation issue with boosters since they use the seatbelt as the restraint.) I know they rent belt-positioning boosters as well, but not sure if there is an age limit.

All of the four-year olds from our preschool are way too short to be in an adult belt and will take the shoulder harness off to get more comfortable. I have a tall 6-year-old and he still gets the belt right across the neck without his backless booster. Mine will be in boosters until the belts hit them right--it's a matter of physics: if that belt is not positioned right, it won't protect you to its maximum ability.

It's a pain in the butt to use seats because in a small sedan you can't fit 3 across the back. But I can't stop thinking that I could never forgive myself if I didn't do this simple thing and my kid was hurt or killed because of my laziness.

As for making it a law, I wish there was no need. But lots of folks still have the attitude that if I rode around in the floor wells or on the back window ledge and never got hurt, why should I use a booster. I doubt it will pass, but I kind of wish it would.

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