Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kansas doing better — but still not well — in driving safety laws

Efforts are gearing up to improve the state's traffic safety laws.

November 19, 2008


Kansas ranks in the bottom half of states when it comes to passing laws that encourage people to drive safely.

But at least it’s improving.

That’s the conclusion of a new study from the Emergency Nurses Association, which tracks such matters as part of its National Scorecard on State Roadway Laws: A Blueprint for Injury Prevention.

Since the last scorecard, in 2006, Kansas joined two other states — Rhode Island and Tennessee — in improving child passenger safety laws, the association said.

Overall, Kansas scored a seven out of a possible 13 for laws identified by the association as being most effective in promoting traffic safety. That was enough to place Kansas in a five-way tie for 33rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Two years ago Kansas was locked in a seven-way tie for 37th.

“We’re middle of the road, but we could be doing better,” said Pete Bodyk, manager of traffic safety for the Kansas Department of Transportation, who reviewed the report’s results Wednesday. “And it’s not about taking anybody’s rights away. It’s about safety.”

According to the report, Kansas still lacks:

• Universal motorcycle helmet laws requiring that all riders wear a helmet, and that such helmets meet federal specifications.

• A primary seat belt enforcement law, applicable to all seating positions.

• Passenger limits and restrictions on nighttime driving for the intermediate stage of the state’s graduated driver’s license law.

Bodyk said that while legislative attempts to address all of those safety-related shortcomings had failed to gain traction in recent years, efforts likely would resume once again in January. He recalls that efforts to require the use of booster seats took six years before becoming law.

This coming year, he said, the most effective improvement would be passing a universal seat belt law — one that would require all people inside a vehicle to be using proper restraints, and one allowing law-enforcement personnel to pull over and cite drivers for such violations without having any other reasons to do so.

Such universal laws, Bodyk said, boost belt usage by anywhere from 10 percent to 12 percent after they take effect. Kansas’ belt-use rate now rests at 77.3 percent, below the national average of 83 percent and well behind the rate of up to 95 percent in some states with universal laws.

“There’s no one silver bullet, but that’s one thing that can make the biggest difference right away,” Bodyk said. “If you’re wearing a seat belt, you’ve got a better chance of surviving a crash.”


davidsmom 9 years, 7 months ago

If newborn children ride home from the hospital in a car seat, are taught to wear seat belts when big enough and it becomes a habit, and are taught that you don't ride bicycles without a helmet, then doing the right thing is just "second-nature." Why would anyone think he is deprived of his "rights"? His right to what? To survive an accident? Catastrophic injuries and death due to people's stupidity costs everyone.

tyger_lily 9 years, 7 months ago

I admit I used to be one of the seat belt offenders until I bought my last car. It has an annoying buzzer that keeps going off every minute until you put it on. Now it is just habit to put it on, which is a good thing. Yay Fords!

Mark Zwahl 9 years, 7 months ago

The headline talks about "driving safety laws" but most of the laws mentioned have nothing to do with driving safely. What might REALLY help would be re-instructing us motorists with fast lane/slow lane signs, education and enforcement. And i've always wondered why we don't get systematic information/feedback about the factors that contribute to accidents - e.g. following too close, no turn signals, speeding, lane changes etc. I'd really like to know about the choices drivers take that lead to accidents. Otherwise, the consequences off poor/dangerous driving choices are too far removed from reality (because most of the time these actions DON'T result in accidents). Auto accidents and the injuries from them are this culture's dirty little secret. Look at the LJW for the daily and fairly uninformative accident reports buried inside the paper...

rachaelisacancer 9 years, 7 months ago

sowhatnow:There is feedback on the contributing factors you mentioned. Here is a link to most of it: the headline is correct. Wearing a seat belt or using a helmet are the No. 1 methods for driving safely, as far as keeping people alive is concerned. All other factors considered are generally moot if a seat belt or helmet weren't used in a crash. And you're right about our dirty little secret. Traffic crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for most people ages 1-34 in America. If as many people died every day in plane crashes as they do in traffic crashes, we'd be doing something about it.

George_Braziller 9 years, 7 months ago

I think that Lawrence is the capitol of drivers whose mindset is "I'm not going to use my turn signal because I'm sure you can read my mind."

Janet Lowther 9 years, 7 months ago

Wearing a seatbelt is a good idea nearly all of the time.However I will not wear a seatbelt when I'm wearing my heavy fluffy down coat in extreme cold weather. Seat belts only work properly when they are snugly fastened across your hips, something which is not possible when wearing my coat which contains a whole pound of down.Slamming up against a loose seatbelt can cause very serious internal injuries. Making stupidity illegal depreciates the condemnatory power of all laws, leaving the state with only the threat of enforcement.

John Hamm 9 years, 7 months ago

Everything important, to them, infringes upon a civil liberty.You want safe roads?Stiffer penalties for DUIs.Drive Right, Pass left laws. No passing on right laws.Stiffer licensing laws. Today's "test" is a farce.Tougher enforcement of all driving rules.No cell phones - hand or earset! Only a fool would say they can drive just as well while having a telephone conversation.Enforce clear the roadway if you've more than five vehicles stacked up behind your slow moving vehicle.Enforce the one second rule.

Skeptic 9 years, 7 months ago

I read the article and the referenced report and I must be missing something. Where is the information about injury statistics? This seems to be just a ranking of passing laws, not actual safety.According to KDOT traffic injuries have been in constant decline (at least since 1974).According to DOT KARS 2006, we're #22 in fatalities/vehicle mile.I suppose I should be suspicious of any statistic like "ranks in the bottom half". That's a meaningless comparison.If you measure your success by the number of laws passed, you don't actually have to succeed at changing anything.

rachaelisacancer 9 years, 7 months ago

jrlii:Unless you're driving some kind of ancient clunker, your seat belts are likely either automatic locking or emergency locking, meaning they lock up when strained by forward motion. Slamming the two inches between your coat and the seat belt is going to cause a lot less damage, and a lot less money to all the rest of us, than slamming into your windshield because you weren't wearing your seat belt. You could always take your coat off.

Calliope877 9 years, 7 months ago

Without a seatbelt, I feel like I'm driving naked.

justthefacts 9 years, 7 months ago

I have lost TWO family members in car wrecks (single car) who were not wearing their seat belt. At least one of them would have probably come out alive if she'd had it on (truck roll over on country road). I'd like something that take people's pictures if they run red lights. It happened to me again this morning. Someone who was trying to beat a yellow light entered (and drove thru) the 4 way intersection 3-5 seconds after the light was full on red. 6th and Folks road. I have the tag number if law enforcement wants it. Thankfully, I now don't trust that the other lane's traffic will stop simply b/c I have the green light.

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