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Law enforcement works to further decrease fatalities

Published on -4/20/2014, 5:48 PM

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Special to The Hays Daily News

Kansas experienced 348 traffic deaths in 2013 as a result of fatality crashes. That was an 18-percent decrease from the 428 traffic deaths recorded in 2005.

During the past seven years, with the exception of 2010's increase, the number of traffic deaths gradually have declined.  In 2013, the 348 traffic deaths were a record low compared to the record high of 780 in 1969, since KDOT began recording numbers in 1947.  Not only have traffic deaths decreased, but the total number of traffic crashes has decreased as well. From 2005 to 2012, the total number of all Kansas traffic crashes has decreased 15 percent.  

Of the 348 people killed in traffic crashes in 2013, approximately 64 percent of those required to be restrained were not at the time of the crash. The Kansas Highway Patrol encourages motorists to protect themselves by making sure everyone in the vehicle properly is restrained in a seat belt or child restraint.

On March 20, Col. Ernest E. Garcia, superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, pledged the patrol's support and participation in the International Association of Chiefs of Police's Drive to Save Lives campaign at a kickoff press conference in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police mid-year conference in New Orleans. The campaign is a national effort to reduce traffic deaths nationwide by 15 percent by the end of 2014. KHP has branded the Kansas campaign Drive to Zero Highway Deaths and will continue its education and enforcement campaigns, which have been successful in reducing traffic deaths in the state of Kansas.

In addition, the patrol will work with other states to help reach the common goal of the nationwide Drive to Save Lives campaign.

"While it is encouraging to see a decrease in the number of deaths on our roadways, we can still do more," Garcia said. "(The) 348 is still too many lives lost. That's still too many family members who had to hear their loved one was not coming home.

"The Kansas Highway Patrol is committed to further decreasing the number of deaths on our state's roads."

There are many contributing factors that have affected the decrease of fatality crashes in Kansas. Vehicles continue to be manufactured in a much safer manner, coupled with changes in laws that assist law enforcement in promoting safety.

Law enforcement officers in Kansas continue to make traffic safety a priority, whether through public educational courses and training, to general enforcement of applicable laws.

KHP, with the cooperation of all of Kansas law enforcement and other traffic safety organizations, urges motorists to continue to do their part to Drive to Zero Highway Deaths.

Motorists should be courteous drivers. When in doubt, yield the right-of-way. Drivers should stay alert, obey all traffic laws, make sure everyone in the vehicle uses a seat belt or child restraint, and never drive drunk.

Kansans can help further by reporting dangerous drivers to the patrol's emergency report line at *47 on a cellphone, or *582 by cellular if traveling the Kansas Turnpike.

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