To the editor:
I read with consternation the March 12 article, “Seat belt enforcement a priority at schools.” The bulk of it focused on the grievously high mortality rate among teenagers not wearing seat belts (nearly three out of four) and the Kansas Highway Patrol’s “annual two-week enforcement effort” that spans the spring break period.
No doubt those numbers contributed to the almost-as-high mortality rate among the general population of motorists not wearing seat belts (nearly two out of three), but one could be forgiven for leaping to the conclusion that about 50 percent of fatalities among nonteenage motorists are associated with failure to wear seat belts.
I’ve worn a seat belt and insisted all others in my car do so, ever since I owned my first car. My cousin and his fiancée were thrown beltless from their car and killed by a drunken driver in front of her home early on Christmas morning of 1964.
I’ve recently returned to Kansas after 15 years along the Gulf Coast, in states that have taken “Click It or Ticket” seriously. In Florida, particularly, the fine to the driver is $150 for each person in the car who isn’t wearing a seat belt, regardless of front seat or back, regardless of any other violation.
Kansas needs a law with some teeth in it ($10 fine; are you kidding me?!) and law enforcement that does more than pay lip service to this issue for just two weeks a year, instead of gumming violators into compliance.