The Kansas Highway Patrol will join other law enforcement agencies in an effort to halt what it calls an epidemic of teenage fatalities.

There were 43 teenagers killed in car crashes during 2012, according to a release from KHP Trooper Tod Hileman. Of those, 74 percent were not wearing seatbelts.

As part of an effort to change the trend, he said, law enforcement agencies across Kansas plan to step up enforcement in school zones.

For more than 20 years, officers have educated and warned passengers and drivers regarding the importance of using restraints while in their vehicle, Hileman said.

Officers will issue citations to anyone who refuses to obey the traffic laws, whether it is for speeding, texting or failing to buckle up.