Kansas Thanksgiving Traffic Enforcement Campaign from Monday through Dec. 1

The El Dorado, Augusta and Andover Police departments, along with many other police agencies across the state, including the Kansas Highway Patrol, will be participating in the Kansas Thanksgiving Traffic Enforcement Campaign from Monday through Dec. 1.

A grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) will underwrite overtime traffic enforcement that specifically targets impaired drivers as well as improperly restrained vehicle occupants.

“We are going to step up traffic enforcement near the construction on the West Side and along the US 400 corridor,” said Augusta Safety Department Chief Tyler Brewer. “We plan to be very visible.”

Surprisingly, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (Wednesday through Sunday) frequently outranks the other holidays in Kansas in number of driver impairment crashes.

“Keep in mind that if you are going to be drinking – any amount at all– do not consider driving home. Arrange to ride with a non-drinking acquaintance. Don’t let pride or concerns for your convenience endanger your life and the lives of innocent others,” said Andover Police Lieutenant Lance Parker.

Those driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs endanger not only themselves, but also others they share the road with – such as their passengers, other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

On average, across Kansas, five persons are killed or injured in alcohol/drug-related crashes each day. According to KDOT, which tracks all crashes in the state, vehicle occupants in alcohol- or other drug-related crashes are over 2 ½ times more likely to be injured or killed than those involved in crashes where alcohol or other drugs were not a factor.

Each week across Kansas, more than 250 drivers are arrested for driving under the influence. A DUI conviction will result in jail time, the suspension or revocation of driver’s license, a fine of $500 to $2,500, participation in an alcohol or other drug treatment program, and the purchase and installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle. This device requires the offender to blow into a device that measures blood alcohol concentration prior to starting the car.

Also responsible for needless death and maiming is the simple failure by many to buckle up. Twice as many Kansans who die from a crash are unrestrained as are restrained. Even worse is the fact that injuries suffered by those who are unbuckled are likely to be much more severe and disabling than those suffered by those who are buckled in. This applies regardless of speed, and whether the occurrence is on city street, county road, or highway.

“Always wear your seatbelt and don’t move until each person riding with you is buckled in,” said El Dorado Police Chief Curt Zieman. “This is your best defense against death and injury, it’s their best defense and it’s the law. You will live with the consequences – good or bad – the rest of your life. It is not uncommon for a belted driver to survive a crash relatively unscathed while an unbelted passenger is killed or seriously injured – perhaps for life. By always following these simple rules, you will preserve life – maybe even yours – and certainly your cash. It will cost you if we catch you breaking the law!”

Be sure children are properly restrained. Sadly, across Kansas, one in every five children, ages 5-9, routinely rides in a vehicle without benefit of a child safety seat. A collision at almost any speed turns unrestrained occupants into human torpedoes who are a danger to themselves and anyone they impact. Needless to say, young children are especially vulnerable. For advice on child safety restraint contact the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office at 1-800-416-2522 or ktsro@dccca.org.