Wichita — While overall seat-belt usage is up in the state, many children ages 5 to 14 still aren't buckling up in Kansas, according to a new survey.
The number of restrained drivers and passengers increased to 73 percent this year, up from 68 percent last year, according to results of an annual Kansas Department of Transportation survey released Thursday.
Among children, the seat -belt usage rate exceeded the statewide average only among those under age 4. For that age group, the usage rate was 83 percent.
"I'm shocked to see the numbers related to children," said Deb Miller, secretary of transportation.
Researchers who surveyed more than 17,000 children found older children were far less likely to buckle up. Statewide, their usage rates ranged from 53 percent for children from 5 to 9 to 49 percent for youths from 10 to 14.
"Grandparents and parents say they'd do anything for their children when they're not even doing one of the simplest things to protect their children," Miller said. "That's clear from the numbers."
Pete Bodyk, chief of the Kansas Department of Transportation's traffic safety bureau, said part of the credit for the overall increase in seat belt use goes to advertising campaigns such as "Click it or Ticket."
New ad campaigns are planned for the fall.
"We're always hoping to get better," Bodyk said.