Seat belts still save lives and Kiowa County Sheriff Deputies checked home-town events closely last week to make sure locals, especially youth drivers were complying with the law.
Law enforcement officers with the Kiowa County Sheriff's office in Greensburg made a few extra stops in the area February 26 through March 9, hoping to encourage the use of seat belt restraints. The local deputies joined other law enforcement agencies from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma to put a stop to what has been an epidemic in the past several years - lives lost due to improper restraints while driving.
"We tried to let people know ahead of time what we were doing," said Kiowa County Sheriff Chris Tedder. "We were not out there trying to pick on anyone. We just want to save lives."
For more than 30 years, officers have educated and warned passengers and drivers about the importance of wearing seat belts while driving, but in 2015 there were still 13 teens who lost their lives due to car crashes in Kansas. Forty percent of those teens were not properly restrained.
"Even one teen death is unacceptable," Tedder said. "Please slow down, put the phone away or turn it off, and always buckle up."
Tedder said his deputies targeted all ages of drivers in the community recently, and found a few drivers and passengers who were not properly restrained.
"I'm not sure about the numbers as I haven't pulled those in yet," he said. "We didn't give many fines, but we did find a few that got warnings.
The Kiowa County Sheriff's Office is not required to participate in statewide programs, but Tedder said this one was very important to him and his division, based on what they see on a daily basis of working with Kiowa County drivers.
"I think more people wear seat belts now than they did, like 15 years ago, but even one without could have bad results," he said.
Extra patrols were dispatched around the local schools at times when coming or going from school events. The state emphasis on seat-belts is over for the time being, but Tedder and his deputies will continue to watch for infractions.