M. Smith | Columbus
Representatives from Kansas AAA came before the Cherokee County Commissioners to present the Cherokee County Sheriff Department with the AAA Community Traffic Safety Award for the sixth consecutive year. The last four have been the platinum level, which is the highest level that can be achieved.
The Sheriffs Department is recognized for their continued leadership of the SAFE teen seatbelt program at Columbus, Galena and Riverton Schools; for the seatbelt and distracted driving education efforts at Baxter Springs high school, the Labette County DARE days events and summer boost program that covered seat belts, pedestrian and bike safety and texting while driving. They have worked with Mercy Hospital to conduct back to school seat belt education and a cooperative program with the City of Galena on impaired driving, texting and driving, and seat belt eduction at the Friday Night Lights event. They were also recognized for their enforcement of Click it or Ticket; You Drink, You Drive, You Lose; summer DUI checklanes and other holiday.
The reported statistics for Cherokee County are: Click it or Ticket violations have dropped from 134 in 2014 to 42 in 2015, which is a 69 percent decrease; teen and child occupant restraint use continues to rise now at 86 percent and 88 percent respectively; alcohol arrests have increased 25 percent and crashes are at their lowest mark in four years, 16; the last three recorded years SAFE program seat belt use at the schools has gone from 75 percent to 80 percent; and crash fatalities have held steady at five or six per year and injuries are at their lowest percent in recent memory, 99, down from 154 in 2012.