Starting next week, the Arkansas City Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma in aggressively enforcing seat belt usage and other traffic safety laws as part of a traffic enforcement campaign.

Beginning Feb. 20 and continuing through March 5, drivers can expect increased police presence on city streets, especially patrolling around local schools.

There should be no surprises when it comes to this enforcement effort. Officers will issue citations to any individual who refuses to obey traffic laws, whether for speeding, texting or failing to buckle up.

The goal of the enforcement effort is to stop what has become an epidemic in the past few years — deaths of teen drivers. In 2015, 13 teenagers lost their lives due to car crashes in Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). Forty percent of them were not property restrained.

“Even one teen death is unacceptable. Please slow down, put the phone away or turn it off, and always buckle up,” said Arkansas City Police Department Capt. Mark McCaslin.

The aim of this campaign is to reduce drastically the number of preventable deaths and injuries that occur when unbelted drivers and passengers are involved in traffic crashes.

Almost half of those killed in crashes each year on Kansas roads are not belted in, according to KDOT. At the same time, 98 percent of crash occupants who suffer no injuries of any kind are belted in.

Drivers can prevent these calamities simply by taking the few moments necessary to buckle up and ensure that their passengers also are secured.

For questions regarding this traffic safety enforcement effort, call (620) 441-6601 or email mmccaslin@arkansascityks.gov. For the latest traffic safety data or to learn more about Kansas safety belt laws, visit www.ktsro.org.

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