Thursday, March 8, 2018

Safety coalitions across the state

Once upon a time, this mangled heap of metal was a Chevy Camaro. The teen occupants, who were wearing seat belts, survived, but according to KDOT, more than 450 other individuals in traffic crashes last year did not.

While 2017 data is unofficial at this time, current data shows there were more than 12,500 crashes resulting in 455 people killed, 961 disabled, 6,601 with minor injuries and 9,426 with possible
injuries. About 95 percent of these crashes were the result of driver behavior error, according to Lisa Hecker, KDOT Program Consultant with the Bureau of Transportation Safety and Technology.

Like many other individuals and organizations, KDOT is concerned with reducing fatalities and serious injuries in Kansas and has been working to establish traffic safety coalitions in communities throughout Kansas.

“Realizing that issues in Johnson County are very different than issues in southwest Kansas, we knew we needed coalitions at the local level in addition to the work we are already doing at the statewide level,” said Steven Buckley, KDOT’s State Highway Safety Engineer. “Local coalitions bring individuals and organizations together within a community to identify traffic safety concerns specific to the community and personalizes the work that the coalition does. This builds buy-in and ownership locally as members work to keep their friends, family and community safe.”

Because the coalitions are locally organized and led, Buckley expects that each coalition will be as different as the communities are across the state. “Some coalitions might organize at the city level while others may organize at the county level,” Buckley said. “While one coalition might be addressing seat belt usage, another might be addressing distracted driving or railroad crossing safety.”

KDOT’s role in the coalition is to find local champions that are interested in improving traffic safety in their community using the 4E’s of traffic safety: education, enforcement, engineering and emergency services. KDOT is also available to provide support, presentations, resource ideas and crash data, and in some situations, funding.

For example, the agency can assist with funding for behavioral programs like SAFE (Seatbelts Are for Everyone) - a student initiative aimed at getting students to buckle up - and for enforcement initiatives aimed at reducing speeding and drunk and distracted driving. To start a Traffic Safety Coalition, visit: or contact Lisa Hecker at 785-296-0845 or 

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